Nortel to merge voice, data with EdgeOS, switches

Remote-access hardware and software coming later this year from Nortel Networks will bring combined voice and data connectivity to small organisations as well as large companies.

The company has highlighted its converged network expertise at NetWorld+Interop. But the real payoff from Nortel's merger with Bay Networks will come later this year, when the company will roll out a remote-access OS for a wide range of enterprise and service-provider devices.

The operating system, called EdgeOS, will run on Nortel Passport devices as well as Bay products from the Access Node, BayStack, and other lines. All of the company's access products will be renamed as the Edge line.

A company official said EdgeOS will combine the data-routing expertise derived from Bay with Nortel's voice-switching capability. It will support both types of traffic over frame relay, IP, and eventually ATM connections.

By the end of next quarter, Nortel will add voice over IP (VOIP) capability to its products currently designed for frame-relay voice.

A pair of products currently in the works at Nortel will bring combined voice and data links to branches and smaller enterprises. The Passport 4460, code-named Pizza Box, will offer the capabilities of larger, chassis-based Passport edge switches in a smaller form factor. It will support two T1 connections for VOIP calls as well as data capability. Two interface expansion slots will provide for additional voice or data connections, and a pair of daughter card slots will allow enterprises to add more data connections, the official said. The 4460 will ship next quarter at prices ranging from $US3000 to $5000.

Later this year Nortel will introduce a smaller version, code-named Candy Box, with support for one T1's worth of voice connections. The Candy Box is expected to cost less than $1000.

Ron Carmona, a Nortel product manager, said that management software for the access products, including configuration wizards, will make the devices easier to set up for small sites with limited IT expertise on-site.

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