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Ascend debuts voice, fax support

The company is the latest networking equipment provider to offer ambitious plans for adding voice and fax capabilities to data-driven networks.

Ascend Communications (ASND) is the latest networking equipment provider to offer ambitious plans for adding voice and fax capabilities to data-driven networks.

The company formally launched a strategy to incorporate voice and fax service in IP (Internet Protocol)-based layouts based on its remote access and wide area switching equipment, as first reported by CNET's NEWS.COM last month.

Ascend has a large installed base of hardware in a variety of service providers, considered one of the fastest growing, if unpredictable, markets within the networking industry. The company hopes to use that strength to sell hardware and software that supports voice-over-IP (VOIP) and fax-over-IP.

Others, including stalwarts like Cisco Systems and Bay Networks, have also articulated intentions of tackling the emerging VOIP market.

The company said the initial phase of the strategy, marked by the rollout of initial products, will be followed by two more elements that encompass ATM (asynchronous transfer mode)-based voice and fax schemes and interoperability of IP-based services across IP, ATM, and Frame Relay-based layouts, as well as integration with SS7 systems which are used by telecommunications carriers.

As part of the rollout, Ascend announced a number of enhancements, including:

  • A new version of its remote access concentrator hardware, called the MAX 6000, that provides up to four T1 or E1 lines worth of modem or ISDN access. The new box offers a threefold increase in data transmission speeds, according to the company. All existing modem cards will work in the new addition to the MAX line, which is shipping now, with prices starting at $11,040.

  • A new application called the MultiVoice Gateway and accompanying management software to facilitate VOIP communications, which will ship next month. The new package can support concentrator densities of up to 96 ports per chassis, with plans to offer a total of 672 ports of support in the future. Pricing starts at $677 per port.

  • New capabilities for its IP Navigator software that allows an administrator to implement quality-of-service over IP-based layouts. The new functions build on the software's previous ability to add routing capabilities in wide area switching devices. The feature will be part of the next release of IP Navigator, due by the middle of this year.