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Cisco courts ISPs with new gear

A new dial access hardware package offering up to 700 simultaneous modem ports is designed to help ISPs battle the busy signal.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) fired a shot at competitors such as Ascend Communications with a new remote dial access hardware package intended to help Internet service providers battle the busy signal.

The new box will allow ISPs to offer up to 700 simultaneous modem ports in one box, with the option to add additional hardware as their business expands.

The new networking gear fills a hole in Cisco's lineup. Cisco's existing routers can handle most of the network traffic on the Internet, but rivals like Ascend have exploited the company's weakness in remote dial access to gain a significant lead in providing remote access gear to the burgeoning ISP market.

The AccessPath-TS system includes a 7000-series router in the box to handle network data and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connection terminations. The model will be a first in a series of enterprise remote access packages, according to the company.

Also included with the box is a network management software application called the AccessPath Manager. It allows a network manager to check the status of modem banks and calls in and out of a point of presence (PoP), as well as track historical usage patterns.

The AccessPath-TS will be available within 90 days at a starting price of $133,000. The new model joins the recently announced AS 5200 remote access server in the Cisco product line.

Cisco also announced a set of service and support offerings specifically targeted at the ISP market. The new services offer both start-up and maintenance options for customers; they will be available at the end of the month.