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Ascend offloads data traffic

The firm will launch a calculated component of its strategy next week to help telecommunications carriers alleviate congestion on phone layouts.

Ascend Communications will launch a calculated component of its strategy next week to help telecommunications carriers alleviate congestion on phone layouts and begin the migration to a merged voice and data-based networking future.

The so-called gateway technology Ascend will offer feeds into the notion that voice and data will soon become one stream of bits across a single pipe, rather than separately routed technologies. It also allows carriers to build value-added services such as virtual private network (VPN) capabilities, which will likely be a key revenue driver in the future as long distance prices plummet.

The Ascend Signaling Gateway, or ASG, is currently in trials with customers and is due to ship in August.

Ascend's move follows similar rollouts from the likes of Cisco Systems, Bay Networks, and Bay's suitor, Northern Telecom.

These firms are all attempting to address an interim and long-sought need of telcos and service providers by offering a gateway to alleviate congestion on overworked phone switches. These gateways essentially intercept data transmissions and reroute traffic onto data layouts through the use of Signaling System 7 (SS7).

By the end of the year, Ascend hopes to tie the ASG to voice and fax-over-IP (Internet protocol) services it intends to provide in its equipment. By the second quarter of next year, Ascend executives claim the company will deliver voice over asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), a cell-based technology, as opposed to IP's packet-based scheme.

Ascend initially will offer its ASG hardware for $69 to $101 per port, with initial support for 50,000 ports due in August and support for 100,000 to 200,000 ports due in subsequent releases.