Netgear says Fast Ethernet is fine

* Netgear introduces Fast Ethernet switches with attractive price tag for SMBs

Netgear this week introduced Ethernet switches for small businesses that unabashedly support Fast Ethernet, rather than the higher speed of Gigabit Ethernet across their ports.

Netgear says that the current economic climate is requiring companies - particularly smaller companies - to scale back their expectations of network gear. "Customers are thinking about how to meet their needs here and now, and not thinking about future-proofing," says Sanjay Kumar, director of SMB switching products for Netgear.

Netgear has focused on physical-stacking stackables. That is, some switches from other companies offer the flexibility of putting the switches in various locations and still treating them as a single logical switch. Netgear offers switches that stack physically, using HDMI cables - the same cables that connect your HDTV to your cable box, for instance - to run a 10G bit/sec connection between the stackables. Up to eight switches can be stacked.

Two of the new switches are stackables; one has 24 ports of 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet, and the other has 48 ports. Each also has two Gigabit Ethernet uplinks or user ports, and they can support either copper or fiber. Similarly, the third switch has 24 ports of 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, but is not stackable. Each is a fully managed switch.

Cost is a primary consideration for Netgear with these switches, and they do come in at a low price point. The standalone switch is $300; the 24-port stackable is $400; and the 48-port stackable is $680.

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