3Com To Unveil New 'In-The-Wall' Switches

The IntelliJack Switch NJ220 is a managed switch that plugs into a standard Ethernet outlet, enabling customers to convert their single-port outlets into four Ethernet ports without running new cabling, said Tom Gerstenberger, vice president of personal systems at 3Com, Marlborough, Mass.

"We're taking functionality that heretofore has been reserved for the wiring closet to what we're calling the new [network] edge,where users connect, not where they aggregate," Gerstenberger said.

The IntelliJack Switch NJ220 is the fourth member of the product family previously sold under the "Network Jack" moniker.

The new model adds standards-based support for security features such as VLANs and network access control for user authentication, as well as a mapping feature that identifies the physical location of connected devices to ease troubleshooting.

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Those features, in addition to support for standards-based power over Ethernet, make the new switch a good fit for customers deploying voice-over-IP, where it is common to segment traffic onto a VLAN for added security, said Sean McEvoy, senior client solutions executive with AimNet Solutions, a solution provider based in Norwalk, Conn.

The switch also appeals to customers such as universities, municipalities and enterprises that need to provide entry to their network from highly visible and accessible places, such as conference rooms, lobbies and dorm rooms, McEvoy said.

"These are places where there's not somebody babysitting that jack all day," he said. "If you have authentication at the network jack level before someone even sees the network, then the network is more secure."

The NJ220, scheduled for availability this week, is priced at $219. With the new product introduction, 3Com is reducing the price of its NJ200, an entry-level version of the NJ220, to $189, down from $219. The IntelliJack line also includes two unmanaged switches: the low-end NJ90, priced at $99, and the NJ100, priced at $140.