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Boosting remote access equipment

Lucent Technologies and MediaGate are among the firms adding a variety of capabilities to basic remote access equipment.

It's not just about dense racks of modems anymore.

Telecommunications giant Lucent Technologies (LU) and fresh face MediaGate are among the firms adding a variety of capabilities to basic remote access equipment, which is used by Internet service providers and large corporations to support the increasing number of remote workers who need to gain network access.

On the heels of a new 52-week high for its stock last week, Lucent rolled out the first new additions to its remote access lineup since it acquired Livingston Enterprises last fall for $650 million.

MediaGate will also launch new gear this week that combines traditional remote access concentration functions while adding new software additions that offer "universal messaging" capabilities. The features essentially allow users to have a single point for all messages, whether they are sent via fax, email, voice, or pager.

This activity follows the news last week that more firms will join the rush to offer VPN capabilities, for virtual private networks, with remote access and switching equipment. VPN technology allows users to initiate a secure connection across a network based on IP (Internet Protocol) and provides business opportunities for service providers focused on the corporate outsourcing market.

Lucent unveiled a high-end addition to its PortMaster series of access concentrators that offers as many as 864 simultaneous modem connections across 10 slots of modem bank capacity. The launch is targeted at rivals Cisco Systems, with its AS 5800 box, and Ascend Communications, with its popular MAX TNT line of gear.

The company plans to soon include features like voice-over-IP capabilities. It already has support for VPNs. The PortMaster 4 will ship in the second quarter with prices starting at about $520 per port. "We've got a whole bunch of technology that's going to make our products top notch," said Marty Likier, product marketing manager for Lucent's remote access business unit.

MediaGate plans to offer even more specialized features, counting on the desire on the part of users to centralize the variety of methods at their disposal to receive information. The company plans to ship its Microsoft Windows NT-based remote access system this month with capabilities that allow users to receive messages from a single point.

The EdgeCommander system includes software that can both receive and retrieve messages from a variety of sources and translate those messages into Web-based information accessible via any browser or email client, according to company executives. Pricing for the system starts at $19,995.