Foundry Networks has launched an access router in a direct challenge to Cisco, claiming it offers a cost-effective alternative to the networking giant. It is also hopping on the IPv6 bandwagon - which, it says, is key to capturing new markets.

Bob Schiff, Foundry’s director of marketing, said many customers were fed up with "another company’s nickel and diming, when every addition is billed". He meant Cisco and elaborated: "When you go to them, it’s an extra charge for the cabling, an extra charge for the manual, an extra charge to turn the routing on."

The company has included additional security features in the AccessIron range, including firewalls for stateful packet inspection.

Schiff said the company was looking to expand its range to attract those customers who preferred to buy all their products from one supplier. He dismissed suggestions that introducing a new range of products would diminish Foundry’s strengths in the enterprise switch market. "Our important differentiator will continue to be our strength in our core products."

The company is introducing IPv6 to its range of 10Gb switches and routers, and in its NetIron 40G and BigIron MG8 products from July. There is a growing demand for IPv6, particularly from Asian countries such as China and India, and from mobile operators and vendors have been keen to tap into this interest. There was a boost to the take-up for the protocol when the US Department of Defense announced that all its networks should be IPv6-compliant.

Schiff claimed that the Foundry products will offer "genuine wire-speed routing of 480 million packets per second". He added that this something that Cisco couldn’t do, pointing out that the EANTC test lab report [pdf] which said Cisco’s throughput was just 216Mbit/s.