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Companies join forces to speed traffic

Cisco, StrataCom, and Ascend are working to provide more bandwidth and ease Internet congestion.

Three of the biggest names in networking equipment--Cisco, StrataCom, and Ascend--are working together to give their customers more bandwidth and thus bring more networking capacity to the congested Infobahn.

The three Bay Area companies have agreed to collaborate on upgrading the network software interface that connects a dial-up call from a user to a frame relay backbone. The upgrade should result in a four-fold increase in the number of calls that can be accepted and switched at once, according to Rod Gross, group marketing manager for StrataCom.

"We're increasing the capacity of technology already employed and lowering the cost of infrastructure by adding four times as many customers on one interface," Gross said. He added that ISPs and frame relay carriers that do not use products from the three companies will not benefit directly from the upgrade.

Each of the three is the leading vendor in its respective market niche: Cisco commands 21 percent of the total switching market; Ascend sells 25 percent of the total inverse multiplexers, and StrataCom dominates 25 percent of the total backbone equipment market. Together, they sell a good portion of the equipment used to create the Net infrastructure.

Gross said that the interface will also ease an ISP's conversion from a frame relay to an ATM backbone, a move that would increase network speed by 100 times.

The upgrade will be available from each company in late summer. Cisco and Ascend will provide it at no additional cost, but StrataCom will charge a $2,000 enhancement fee.

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