Affordable Branch-Office Switch Supports VoIP

The IT manager looking to essentially drop a high-speed, converged voice/data network into a branch office (or small workgroup location) in the form of a small-footprint box—and manage it from corporate headquarters—won’t have to look much farther. 3COM Corp. has just announced a duo of 8-port units that fill the bill: the OfficeConnect Managed Switch 9 and Managed Switch 9 FX.

The two products share the same basic feature set: 8 auto-sensing 10/100 Ethernet ports (4 supporting Power over Ethernet), layer-2 controls for traffic prioritization and rate limiting, and automatic recognition of VoIP traffic. The difference is in the uplink configuration: The Switch 9 has a Gigabit copper uplink connection, while the Switch 9 FX has Fast Fiber uplink and SFP slot for Gigabit fiber LX or SX transceiver module.

Both units are SMPT enabled and can be managed locally, regionally, or from a central corporate location. Both likewise feature port security, 802.1X and RADIUS authentication, and Secure Management Access (SSH, HTTPS).

“This is not a switch/PBX combo, rather a layer-2 switch that can be programmed to implement prioritization policy that supports IP phones,” 3COM product marketing manager John Sheedy told “You still need a PBX, but the units will support voice over WLAN,” he continued.

Running one or more 802.11b/g access points off the Switch 9’s PoE-enabled ports, you could easily set up wireless VoIP connectivity for quite a number of workers.

“If the unit’s eight ports aren’t enough to supply all a location’s connectivity needs,” Sheedy said, “you can use one of the 3COM IntelliJacks—wall mounted plates that supply four auxiliary Ethernet ports—to hook up printers, computers, VoIP phones, fax units, or access points. One port of the IntelliJack can even forward power to another device,” Sheedy said. IntelliJacks are available in managed and unmanaged models.

The OfficeConnect Managed Switch 9 and 9 FX are available now. They sell for the list price of $495 and $695, respectively. The optional SFP transceivers for the FX model are priced at $495 for the 1000Base-SX and $995 for the 1000Base-LX.

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