Foundry Networks will announce two new switches this week that offer Power-over-Ethernet (POE) and 10 Gigabit Ethernet capabilities for high-capacity networks, including those running wireless and VoIP.

The FastIron SX 800 starts at US$17,995 and the FastIron SX 1600 starts at $27,995, according to Foundry.

The FastIron SX 1600 provides the most power in its POE ports on the market, with each capable of up to 15.4 watts - the highest provided in the IEEE PoE standard, Foundry officials said.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group in Boston, confirmed that that is the highest power capability in the switching market, although he said Cisco Systems could have the same capability soon.

George Davidsen, director of information networks at Elder Health in Baltimore, said he is considering installing one or two of the new switches in the next six months or so to serve 200 users.

Davidsen said he doesn't need 15.4 watts of power per port but likes the ability to control power consumption per port on an existing Foundry switch, the SuperX. That switch was installed about a year ago for 480 users.

"One nice thing about Foundry is that I can control the power consumption per port on the switch, which means I can limit how much juice each phone is sucking from the switch," he said. "That means I’m not taxing the switch as much, and that leads to a dollar reduction."

He said it is logical to assume power needs for VOIP phones will increase as functions such as colour screens are added in the future.

Elder Health runs Cisco VoIP phones for its current users, he said. Kerravala said Foundry's announcement is noteworthy because few such announcements have been made in 2006 and Foundry is "keeping up a pretty good stream of products coming out," he said.

Foundry, Cisco and HP’s networking unit, ProCurve, have had healthy sales this year, he said. In comparison, Extreme Networks, Nortel, and 3Com are facing challenges. "We are starting to see some separation of companies in a crowded market," Kerravala said.