3Com and Siemens AG announced plans this week to develop a slew of telephony and multimedia products designed to allow customers to deploy voice, video and data applications over local area networks (LANs).
The alliance, which builds on an 18-month partnership between the organisations, calls for the formation of a joint venture company that will begin rolling out products in early 1999 and continue through 2000.
3Com and Siemens will share an initial investment of $US100 million to get the venture up and running, they said.
Initial products will be aimed at smaller businesses or for use in workgroups of less than 500 users, and will be based in part on Siemens' HiNet RC3000 call processing software and 3Com's SuperStack II LAN switches.
The products will include LAN telephony gateways, digital Ethernet telephones and stackable multimedia "exchanges" -- advanced LAN switches that integrate call processing software for real time voice and video communications.
The products will allow users to make and receive telephone calls from their PCs or Ethernet phones using public telephone networks, share multimedia applications across a LAN in real time, and instantly retrieve multimedia files from incoming callers, the companies said.
The gateway and call processing products are expected to be available in the first quarter of 1999, while the Ethernet telephones, along with the multimedia exchanges for smaller firms, are scheduled for delivery in the second half of next year, the organisations said.
Highly scaleable chassis products for use by large sites with 500 to 5000 users are scheduled for delivery in 2000, along with multimedia exchanges for larger firms that will be based on 3Com's new CoreBuilder 9000 Enterprise switch.
Both companies along with their respective distribution channels will sell the products. They will be branded as the Siemens HiNet product line and the 3Com SuperStack II and CoreBuilder product lines.