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Bay builds faster backbone

Just in time for the holiday season, Bay Networks will take the wraps off new equipment for building high-speed networks.

Just in time for the holiday season, Bay Networks (BAY) will take the wraps off new equipment for building high-speed networks.

Scheduled to roll out the first week in December, Bay will add to its strengths in local area switching hardware based on ATM, a high-speed networking technology, with new additions that tackle wide area enterprise needs.

ATM, an acronym for asynchronous transfer mode, is used primarily in the "backbone"--or interconnection points--of networks in both campus environments and across long distances. Bay, an early adopter of ATM technology, has taken a decidedly less "all-or-nothing" approach to the networking pipe in recent times, a reflection of the options available when constructing a network.

The new devices, called the MX 50 and 200, allow branch offices and corporate enterprises to support multimedia applications over ATM.

Both were licensed by Yurie Systems, an upstart maker of access concentrator equipment for ATM layouts that require support for voice, video, and data traffic.

The MX 50 offers four slots and the MX 200 comes in 12 and 16-slot configurations with support for T1/E1, T3/E3, and OC-3 (Optical Channel) connections and serial interfaces. MX chassis start at $5,300, with modules starting at $5,500.

The company also released new modules for its System 5000 and Centillion 100 boxes. The new modules include higher density Ethernet and Fast Ethernet configurations as well as ATM links.

The ATM-focused rollout comes as the technology seems to increasingly be positioned as a niche pipe compared with Gigabit Ethernet, the next-generation Ethernet technology that will roll out en masse next year. But analysts said there is still a lucrative core market for ATM from those who do not need to be early adopters of a new type of pipe. ATM remains a competitive alternative for wide area backbones, due to its support for a variety of traffic.

"For a lot of folks now, it's not such a religious thing," John Armstrong, an analyst with Dataquest, said.

The latest numbers from Dataquest, for the third quarter, show that Bay has retained a lead in ports shipped in ATM, but stalwart Fore Systems still leads in revenue from ATM, with sales approaching $53 million for the period. Total ATM sales reached $237 million.

Bay executives said new ATM standards will soon be incorporated into their offerings with support for PNNI (Private Network-to-Network Interface) currently in beta and support for MPOA (Multi-Protocol over ATM) due in beta next quarter. A new switch with support for OC-12 and OC-48 links is also in development, according to the company.