Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Cisco Systems on Tuesday will introduce faster, more feature-laden versions of its hot-selling access routers, in an attempt to fend off competition from rivals Juniper Networks and 3Com.
Cisco's new 1800, 2800 and 3800 wide area network access routers feature embedded security tools and support voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), said Mike Volpi, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco's routing technology group. VoIP is a technology for making phone calls using the unregulated Internet, rather than the heavily regulated and taxed traditional phone network.
"These devices once just needed to direct traffic, but that won't do it anymore," Volpi said. "You have to do a whole lot more."
Such equipment is typically used by small and midsize businesses, or by larger businesses with branch offices. The routers sit on a customer's network and provide access to the Internet and other wide area services. Most of these devices are sold through the carriers, which offer them to customers as part of their data networking or Internet services.
Cisco dominates the $4 billion-a-year market for such equipment, claiming a 90 percent market share. But in the past six months, rivals Juniper Networks and 3Com have made efforts to attack Cisco's dominant share, according to Joel Conover, principal analyst at Current Analysis.
"Cisco's platforms today are old," Conover said. "Now it's facing a new, competitive threat, and--conveniently--it's been working on a new platform for two years."
The 1800 costs $1,395, the 2800 is $1,995, and both are available this month. The 3800, about $9,500, starts selling in October.