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Switches priced to move

AxoNet Technologies would like to officially send the desktop Ethernet hub to the dustbin of history with a new low-priced switch.

AxoNet Technologies would like to officially send the desktop Ethernet hub to the dustbin of history.

The Mountain View, California-based start-up is hoping to drive the adoption rate of desktop Ethernet switches by offering them at a price point of $60 per port that makes it competitive with shared-media hubs. The cost of the company's first product, the NC-100 8-port Ethernet switch, also undercuts offerings of companies such as Bay Networks by half.

Hubs, both managed and unmanaged, connect a variety of types of communications through a shared link on a network. For the desktop, Ethernet-based hubs are coming under increased pricing pressure from switches, which provide dedicated bandwidth through segmentation and, hence, increased performance.

"We wanted to offer technology for small and medium-sized businesses that was similar to high-end offerings," said Pankaj Chowdhry, president and CEO of AxoNet. "We try to use as much off-the-shelf technology as possible."

With the NC-100, users can take full advantage of an intranet environment, quickly pulling necessary data off a server and accessing internal Web documents at high speeds.

The fledgling company, which was started last August and includes alumnus of Cisco Systems, 3Com, and IBM, can succeed, according to analysts, if it fosters a few reliable sales channels for its products.

"I think their price point is extremely aggressive," noted Skip McCaskill, an analyst with the Gartner Group consultancy. "It's almost a foregone conclusion, however, that if you're a new vendor you have to come in at these price points."

The NC-100 sells for $500 and supports up to 8,000 media access control (MAC) addresses, the method that translates protocol packets into a frame format for delivery to its destination.

By the end of the second quarter, the company hopes to have a stackable version of the NC-100 with a Fast Ethernet uplink and an ISDN router for wide-area-network connectivity. AxoNet will also offer a standalone and stackable Fast Ethernet switch.