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Cisco converges on voice gear

Cisco converges on voice gear

Cisco Systems this month is aiming at enterprises and service providers with products for carrying voice, video, and data on one network.

Cisco has also announced availability of its first product sets for packet-based telephony in small and branch offices. They include Cisco's first phones, based on IP handsets it acquired through its 1998 purchase of Selsius Systems.

However, despite the fact that all the top voice and data equipment vendors are combining the two to build multi-service LANs and WANs, one analyst said there is a long proof path ahead.

"Vendors need to have equipment out way ahead of the curve," said Chris Nicoll, an analyst at Current Analysis in the US.

"They need to get it installed in the early adopters for the broader market to get comfortable with it."

In addition to its IP telephony gear, Cisco announced more services in its CallManager software, which include transfer, extended hold, forward, and conferencing.

Cisco has also added voice-over-frame relay options for its 2600 and 3600 routers. According to Nicoll, these options could prove a boon for branches that already have the routers.

"Frame relay is one of the few public WAN services you can get today with a service-level agreement [SLA] for performance," Nicoll said. "This lets small and branch offices take advantage of those SLAs for voice service over a data network."

In addition, Cisco announced greater video capabilities for the MC3810 Access Concentrator, now targeted at converged voice and data over the WAN.

Enterprises will also be able to move voice switching off a PBX to Cisco's Catalyst 8500 ATM switch, using the new Virtual Switch Controller 2700 module.

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