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New Cisco gear shoots high

The networking firm ships its latest play for carrier dollars, offering a high-end device that could apply pressure to competitors.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) has shipped its latest play for carrier dollars, offering a high-end device that could apply pressure to competitors like Northern Telecom and Ascend Communications.

The new equipment, called the AS 5800 universal access server, essentially provides carriers and service providers with high-density hardware that they can use to satisfy their remote access requirements in large-sized points of presence.

The moves offer further proof of Cisco's drive to capture market share in the rapidly evolving remote access space, an area where the dominant networking firm has been weak until recently.

According to a report released by market watcher Current analysis, the Cisco move could spell trouble for competitors.

"This announcement will have a major impact on the [remote access] market, since the AS 5800 gives Cisco a complete product line," the report said. "This interface range combined with its distribution and large installed based will make many of its competitors rethink their strategies."

Now, Cisco can offer carriers and service providers a complete line of equipment for their wide area networks, from routers to wide area switches and remote access gear. The new AS 5800 ties into currently shipping AS 5200 and AS 5300 devices, offering a system that can potentially offer more than 10,000 simultaneous connections, according to the company.

The box also includes several high-availability features that Cisco says result in an average downtime of roughly five minutes per year.

The product falls into the same niche of the dial access market while Ascend has had success with its MAX TNT equipment. That company will soon launch related enhancements to take advantage of the hype surrounding IP (Internet Protocol) services for voice and faxing.

The device includes support for SS7 (Signaling System Seven), a key technology requirement for equipment targeted at the telecommunications carrier market. Cisco also promises to add support for both voice- and fax-over-IP, functions that are rapidly becoming requirements.

The AS 5800 also includes routing processors, as well as support for a variety of networking interfaces, such as Fast Ethernet, FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface), HSSI (High-Speed Serial Interface), DS3, E3, and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) OC-3 (Optical Circuit). Prices for the box start at $515 per port.