3Com plans to expand its line of switches for small and medium-size businesses by announcing five Gigabit Ethernet devices.
The new switches range in price from $US149 for a model with eight ports - only one of which is capable of Gigabit Ethernet performance - to $US3495 for a system with 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports, said Robert Winch, director of product management. Two of the switches are desktop models, and the other three are rack-mountable. All five are due to be released over the next couple of months.
3Com is one of several leading vendors in the market for unmanaged switches, which operate without relying on the Simple Network Management Protocol and functions that typically help IT administrators monitor network access and usage, said Joshua Johnson, an analyst at Synergy Research Group.
"Compared to many segments of networking, this is one area that's growing," Johnson said, adding that annual sales of unmanaged switches total about $US500 million. Other top vendors include Dell, D-Link, Netgear and Linksys.
Sales of switches supporting Gigabit Ethernet data rates should also see growth "because the difference in price over standard Ethernet is minimal," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group.