A California start-up is taking on the carrier access giants with a line of frame relay/ATM switches, which promises to let service providers roll out new services very rapidly.
Sentient Networks, a start-up headed by ex-Newbridge Networks executives and backed by $30 million in venture capital, will ship its Ultimate range in the first half of next year. It claims Carriers and service providers will be able to offer any voice or data service over any port, so that new services can be rolled out quickly. For instance, analysts who have obtained a sneak preview of the technology, say a carrier could convert a customer from frame relay to ATM services in under an hour, without having to swap any equipment.
Customers will also be able to lease one T3 circuit that can be divided up to support a range of services during one day.
The Any Service Any Port technology is chip-based and allows service providers to support frame relay, ATM and, in the future, ISDN over any port on the carrier switch. Port connections are made using software-adaptable connections rather than hardware changes. But converting to different cell or frame types is done in dedicated processors, which is faster than converting in software and reduces load on the switch's main processor.
Sentient claims its switches will offer seven times greater port density and 15 times the performance of switches from Cascade, which, with Ascend, it identifies as its hottest target. It also says its prices will be half those of Cascade's range.
Cascade said it was confident it could meet Sentient's performance rates and that it would be hard for a single-product vendor to take on the bid players with their diverse ranges.
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