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3Com goes to India

The networking gear company plans to open an engineering design center in Hyderabad later this year.

3Com on Monday said it plans to open an engineering design center next month in Hyderabad, India.

The center will focus on voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, networking technology currently being developed at the company's facilities in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and in Marlborough and Andover, Mass., the company said.

Last year, 3Com said it would focus its internal engineering strength on products such as VoIP and application-specific integrated circuit chips, and farm out other work to offshore locations. It also set up a new product design house in Taiwan to manage the design and manufacturing of its low-price, high-volume products.


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3Com said the Indian center will work on VoIP software features and application development, while the teams in the United States are focused on VoIP architecture and product development. Officials said the center should eventually employ 50 to 100 workers, and a similar number of workers will be added in the United States.

"The leading-edge R&D (will be) developed in North America," said Liam Kiely, vice president of engineering at 3Com. "Anything devoted to testing maintenance and so on we're bringing on in India."

A number of U.S. corporations have announced plans either to set up new engineering centers or to expand their existing centers in Indian technology hubs like Bangalore and Hyderabad. The idea is to take advantage of locally available engineering talent and India's proximity to markets in Asia Pacific and Europe. In January, storage gear maker Adaptec unveiled plans to pump $25 million into two centers--in Hyderabad and Bangalore, respectively--over the next four years. Workers at the centers will develop new chips, IP storage tools and external storage products.

VoIP enables telephone calls over the Internet, and telephone companies fear that adoption of the technology could eat into their revenues. The Federal Communications Commission is working out its own stance on the issue, while many states believe that they have a regulatory role, when it comes to Internet phone providers.