Adtran powers phones, access points through switches

Looking to simplify corporate Gigabit Ethernet and voice-over-IP installations, Adtran is rolling out switches, routers and combination switches with integrated routers that support VoIP handsets and wireless access points -- all offering in-line power support.

The new devices -- NetVanta 1124, 1224 R, 1224 ST and 1224 STR -- feature Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) and support WAN interfaces to route traffic to other corporate sites. Two of the switches have Gigabit Ethernet ports to support connections to servers or to link switches together so they can be stacked.

The devices are well suited to small offices or branches where price and simplified management are key, says Wayne Gardner, network solutions division manger for Camber, which beta tested the NetVanta 1224 RST PoE.

He installed it in a new doctor's office to support eight Avaya IP phones connected to an Avaya IPOffice 403 call server. He says the unit's integrated firewall and power over Ethernet made it possible to use a single device rather than a switch and separate firewall.

The single box is simpler to manage via a graphical Web user interface that Gardner says can be understood without instructional documentation. He says he has used the Web access to reset firewall parameters to allow access to a new medical database application.

Price was also a factor, Gardner says. While they don't have as many features or the flexibility of similar switches by other vendors, they are less expensive, he says. For example, a 24-port Cisco 24-port, PoE Catalyst 3550, which has no WAN port, costs between US$2,700 and US$3,700. The most expensive of the new NetVanta switches costs US$2,000.

Gardner says he priced a Cisco Systems switch and PIX firewall, and found the NetVanta switch to cost 40 percent less.

While Gardner used the device in a single office, companies looking to deploy large numbers of switches and routers to branch offices would be likely customers for these switches, says Daniel Golding, an analyst with the Burton Group. They are fixed-configuration boxes that can be used in situations where customers wouldn't change settings much once they are installed. "I could see them in a retail chain where you buy 5,000 of them and roll them out to all locations and you never want to mess with them again," he says.

Adtran is also introducing a 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch called NetVanta 1524. It comes with 28 physical ports -- four of them fiber -- but only 24 can be active at once.

Known for its low-cost family of access routers, Adtran jumped into the switch arena about a year ago with its family of NetVanta 2000 devices. The company competes with a variety of players in the low-end switch/routing arena, including Cisco, 3Com, Allied Telesyn International and NetGear.

Pricing for the new devices is: NetVanta 1224 R PoE, US$1,195; 1224 STR PoE, US$1,295; 1224 PoE, US$795; 1224ST PoE, US$895. NetVanta 1524 costs US$1,395. All are available now.

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