Cisco Taps Business DSL With New Router

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (03/31/2000) - Cisco Systems Inc. this week will unveil a voice-enabled digital subscriber line router that the company hopes will spur use of DSL by businesses.

Cisco will roll out the 827 asymmetric DSL (ADSL) router for the small office/home office (SOHO) market. DSL is usually marketed to consumers as a high-speed alternative to analog modems for Internet access, but Cisco claims the 827 has enough features to make DSL applicable to businesses.

"On the business side, we're seeing a significant surge in interest in DSL," says Bruce Laird, senior director of marketing for branch-office and SOHO products at Cisco. Whereas consumers want "cheap and cheerful" Internet access, businesses require quality of service (QoS), reduced equipment and WAN costs, security and reliability for their mission- critical applications, Laird says.

Moreover, broadband Internet access provided by cable modems is outpacing DSL by 2 to 1 in the consumer market, Laird says. Cable passes by 80 percent of homes but few businesses, he says.

Market tracker IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts, predicts the number of DSL business subscribers will grow from less than one million this year to about three and a half million in 2003.

Cisco hopes to help ignite that demand with the 827. The router comes in two flavors: a data-only version and another with four analog voice ports. Both feature an Ethernet console and ADSL port.

The voice-enabled model delivers "toll quality" voice over DSL via the H.323 standard, Cisco says. H.323 specifies how to run multimedia applications, such as voice and video, via packet networks such as IP.

Cisco will add voice-over-ATM capabilities to the 827 in the future, company officials say.

To prioritize voice and video traffic, the 827 features Cisco IOS software-based IP QoS algorithms, such as class-based weighted fair queuing (CBWFQ) and committed access rate (CAR). CBWFQ defines traffic classes based on access control lists, input interfaces or protocols, and assigns characteristics such as bandwidth and maximum packet limit.

CAR is a rate-limiting technology that allocates bandwidth commitments and bandwidth limitations to traffic, and also handles traffic that exceeds the bandwidth allocation.

"On the QoS side, I think it's a little bit of overkill for the small business market," says Amy Harris, an analyst at IDC. "Especially in the low end, those businesses aren't going to be looking for some of the functionality this router has. I think the high end is going to be looking for it, though."

For security, the 827 features extended access lists for firewalling. Later this year, Cisco will enhance the firewall features of the 827 with stateful packet inspection and provide IP Security and Triple Data Encryption Standard encryption for virtual private networks.

Riley Design Associates in Danville, California, is using the 827 to exchange Internet e-mail with clients on Web design ideas and collaborative marketing concepts, says Ken Madsen, principal at the firm.

"The thing that's become more critical for us is now the security," Madsen says. "As we get more and more corporate clients, the information and data they're giving to us is their knowledge asset. With basic DSL, you've got somewhat of a firewall, but this will be a lot more enhanced [with the 827]."

The 827 costs $649 for the data-only version and $999 for the voice model. It will be shipped April 24.

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