Foundry Networks has launched a line of enterprise access router, VPN and firewall gear for enterprises. It is positioning itself as an alternative to market-leader Cisco for WAN connectivity and security.

The AccessIron product line includes two access routers with integrated VPN and stateful firewall features that could be used to link a small, medium or large enterprise site to a WAN link or ISP connection. Foundry says it compares favourably with Cisco's 1700, 2600 and 3700 routers but costs 30 percent less.

The AccessIron 1200 supports up to 16 fractional T1 connections, and includes an integrated CSU/DSU. The AccessIron 3200 supports two channeled or clear-channel T3 connections.

Both boxes support WAN standards, such as Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), Frame Relay and Multilink-PPP. The boxes also support QoS technologies such as DiffSerf, 802.1Q. Standard routing and availability protocols OSPF, RIP, RIPv2, BGP4 and VRRP are also supported.

While Cisco's 1700, 2600 and 3700 series routers have long-dominated the enterprise access-router market, several new competitors have jumped into the market over the last year. 3Com last autumn introduced its Router 5000 series of router/VPN/firewall gear, while Enterasys launched its XSR series of integrated router/security boxes earlier in 2003.

Foundry's AccessIron boxes will compete with gear from 3Com and Enterasys, as well as routers from ADC, Adtran and Quick Eagle Networks.

The AccessIron routers will be available in July and start at $2,600 (£1,450).