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Net gear does double duty

Start-up Vina Technologies debuts with a single network access device that combines voice and data capabilities.

A new access device company, debuting today, is offering hardware that could cut the costs for providing voice and data capabilities with one network pipe.

Vina Technologies is targeting service providers with a box that offers T1 line connectivity for small businesses.

The company is zeroing in on the small business market with a single box that combines wide area networking for high-speed T1 Internet access, a bank of ports in the same box for phone lines to reduce costs by using one pipe for two functions, and software that serves as a firewall and supports protocols like SNMP (simple network management protocol) for remote management.

Vina executives feel they can carve out a niche using service providers to resell the product as part of a T1 voice and Internet integrated package because their box, dubbed the T1 Integrator, is cheaper than the combination of hardware now used to provide the same services. The pizza box-size T1 Integrator is priced at just over $5,000.

Vina's executive team consists of veterans from Cisco Systems wide area Stratacom subsidiary, as well as telecommunications firms like Pacific Bell. The company will debut its technology at next week's Supercomm '97 show in New Orleans.

The company was founded in May of 1996 and has received $6 million in venture capital funding so far. Vina has announced an initial customer, Intermedia Communications, who has agreed to use the T1 Integrator as part of its service offerings.

Cost savings can be gained using T1 lines for voice and Internet access because the pipe can handle large amounts of data. And by using the high-speed connection, customers can bypass local telephone companies and deal directly with long distance firms. Vina officials said savings could end up being as much as 20 to 40 percent for phone service.

The box includes a LAN (local area network) Ethernet connection to tie small businesses into the T1 line and includes a bank of voice channels for up to 24 phone lines.