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Internet

Companies try to break online gridlock

Two firms are trying to widen bandwidth with Ethernet and frame-relay technologies.

With different methods but similar goals, a host of companies have recently made announcements in the ongoing effort to break up the ever-growing Internet logjam.

One way of avoiding clogged pipes is to not use them at all. With its Wireless Ethernet Bridge, ComputerActive hopes to give its customers an airborne alternative to T1 lines. The bridge provides a 1.45-mbps wireless connection between small black boxes that plug into a regular Ethernet network. The boxes' antennas can transmit through glass and have a maximum range of six miles but must be in an unobstructed line of sight to work properly.

The idea is that companies can connect two buildings wirelessly instead of leasing a T1 line. Internet service providers could also use the bridge to connect neighborhoods by placing an antenna on a hill and transmitting in all directions.

The bandwidth provided by the wireless connection, however, must be shared--which means that the more people who connect to one antenna, the slower the service will be. The boxes, priced at $2,895 each, use spread-spectrum transmission and optional user access codes to prevent cellular snooping.

In other wireless news, Swedish telco equipment giant Ericsson and network hardware vendor Cisco are joining forces to develop wireless Internet access systems, the companies recently announced. The companies plan to work together on network hardware sold by Cisco and configured to work wirelessly across digital cellular services operating at 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, and 1,900 MHz, according to a Newsbytes report.

Other vendors are working to expand the earthbound infrastructure. Digital Equipment is combining its switching hardware with software from Ipsilon Networks to speed up Internet access across ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) backbones. The new backbones could carry up to 622 mbps per second. The combination of management software and hardware components, called Gigaswitch/IP Solution, will be available in September starting at $59,000.

Cascade Communications, meanwhile, is also trying to boost backbone speeds by selling its 45-mbps frame relay switches--the same speed as T3 links--to Internet service providers and corporations with wide-area networks. Cascade is trying to persuade clients to use frame relay switches more widely throughout the network infrastructure because of a recent decision by the Frame Relay Forum to ratify the 45-mbps specification as an industry standard, a significant improvement over the previous 1.54-mbps standard.

Cascade is selling its T3/E3 Frame Relay module, which connects a user network to the Internet, for $20,000.

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