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ROCKLAND, Mass. -- September 24, 1996

Press Releases

Strategic Networks Consulting, the leading consulting firm for the computer networking industry, in partnership with Core Competence, Inc., announces the results of The 1996 ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation.  The results were presented during a special session at NetWorld+Interop 96 in Atlanta.

An addition to Strategic Networks Consulting's Switched Technology evaluation series, The 1996 ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation is the most thorough evaluation currently available of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) remote access router and bridge products.  The evaluation defined and compared the functionality, performance and cost of 13 leading ISDN router and bridge products for remote access.  Five tests  ISDN call set up delay, throughput, compression, configurability and ease-of-use coupled with comparative analysis, detailed features comparisons and evaluation of configuration management tools completed the full evaluation.

"Over the past ten years, the process of conducting business has become increasingly distributed",  said Nick Lippis, president and founder, Strategic Networks Consulting. "The competitive global marketplace has forced many organizations to rethink and redesign their network to accommodate remote access.  Our evaluation provides networking professionals the critical data necessary for selecting equipment for all aspects of distributed computing, especially enterprise and public internetworking."

According to Dave Piscitello, president and founder of Core Competence, Inc., "The phenomenon of the Internet has dramatically influenced the picture of and the relationship between the workplace, home and small businesses.  The Internet effectively levels the playing field  the workplace is more distributed with telecommuting increasing in popularity, and small businesses now have greater access to research, marketing and advertising facilities and information." As demand for bandwidth has accelerated in the office workgroup and the corporate backbone, so has the need for bandwidth among those remotely connected to the enterprise network.

ISDN availability has improved tremendously, can now be obtained in most urban and suburban areas, is less expensive than dedicated bandwidth and is proving to be reliable.  In many instances, ISDN is a cost-effective switched alternative for remote access.  As the availability for ISDN service has increased, so has the availability of ISDN remote access products for home, small business and remote office use.

Test Results

Strategic Networks and Core Competence found that the best performing products featured ISDN call set up delays of one second or less, while the majority of ISDN call set up times were less than three seconds.  All ISDN call set up times were more than satisfactory when compared to the 10 to 40 second connect times associated with analog dial connections.

With regard to the throughput test, several patterns emerged with the best performing products forwarded large (1400 byte) messages at near line speed (61-62 Kbps) and exhibited negligible throughput decrease for 1,000 byte and 500 byte packets, but experienced approximately 10 percent or greater decrease in performance for 250 byte packets.

The compression tests found that using compression over a single B-channel often results in better throughput than using two B-channels without compression.  Increasing the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) receive window size often results in dramatic increases in throughput versus small window sizes.

Test Participants

Mr. Piscitello notes, "No single product was a best performer in every category and no single product is appropriate for use in every conceivable application of ISDN." The 1996 ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation does not declare winners or losers because product performance ratings greatly depend on analysis of particular network environment requirements for functionality, performance, and ease-of-use.  The evaluation's goal is to provide network professionals with the information necessary to differentiate among products and to decide for themselves which ISDN router and bridge best meets their specific requirements.  In addition, the evaluation provides internetworking equipment vendors with competitive product comparisons.  The following products were evaluated:


  • 3Com AccessBuilder Remote Office 500 ISDN Access
  • 3Com Office Connect Remote 530 Router
  • Xylogics Corporate LAN Access Module (CLAM) Bridge
  • Xylogics Marlin Bridge


  • 3Com AccessBuilder Remote Office 500 ISDN Access
  • 3Com Office Connect Remote 530 Router
  • Cisco 100
  • Cisco 766
  • Gandalf XpressConnect 5242i Edge Router
  • Livingston PortMaster Office Router
  • Proteon GlobeTrotter 70 IP Router
  • Shiva AccessPort
  • Xylogics Corporate LAN Access Module (CLAM) Router
  • Xylogics Marlin Router

Additional Findings

Rolf McClellan, senior consultant for Strategic Networks Consulting and project leader for The 1996 ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation,  reported the following major findings:

Router and bridge technology for remote access is fast approaching commodity pricing  many products cost less than a Pentium-based personal computer.

All ISDN router and bridge products evaluated provide Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) agents for network management  a must-have feature for large-scale networking management environments.  However, users of remote access products must have diagnostic tools that are easier to use and less expensive than SNMP network management systems.  Some vendors providing easy-to-use configuration management utilities are beginning to provide easy-to-use access to more extensive diagnostic capabilities as well.

Mr. Piscitello, principal investigator in The 1996 ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation,  noted the following:

  • Tuning of TCP/IP host software can measurably affect performance  increasing the size of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) receive window from four to 24 kilobytes on a host receiving a file can result in a twofold or better increase in throughput.
  • Internet protocol packet size influences throughput for User Datagram Protocol (UDP) traffic.  The evaluation revealed there is generally little difference in UDP throughput when packets are over 500 bytes; measurable decreases in remote access product throughput was detected when small packets were used.  This will affect small packet processing overhead for locations experimenting with IP telephony, but is of little relevance for Internet data applications.
  • Ease-of-installation should be considered a major diffentiator among ISDN routers and bridges  depending on the organization s approach to remote access deployment, installation may be performed by personnel with little or no internetworking or ISDN expertise.  Astute vendors realizing this have simplified and demystified the installation and initial configuration of ISDN routers and bridges through the use of a variety of graphical user interface (GUI)-based applications and utilities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  • In addition to outlining the general criteria for product selection, the evaluation also provides a step-by-step process for selecting an ISDN router or bridge for remote access.

    "Complete and balanced analysis is invaluable to network managers as they select the most appropriate network devices for a wide range of remote and branch office access applications," said McClellan. "End-users and small office consumers will also find the results of our evaluation equally useful in selecting access equipment for telecommuting and Internet access purposes."


    As of October 7, 1996, The ISDN Router and Bridge Evaluation is available free of charge through the World Wide Web at http://www.snci.com.  Printed copies are available for $99 by contacting Strategic Networks at 617-871-5195.

    About Strategic Networks Consulting: Founded in 1991, Strategic Networks Consulting, Rockland, Mass., has emerged as one of the leading consulting firms for the networking industry.  The company provides custom consulting, advisory services, enterprise testing and analysis, baselining and capacity planning, and a series of nation-wide seminars.

    Strategic Networks is a division of SOFTBANK Expos, the world's largest Internet conference and trade show company. SOFTBANK Expos presents 21st century technology events, including NetWorld+Interop, Interop DotCom, JavaOne, Netscape Internet Developers' Conference, Seybold Seminars, Web Innovator, Windows NT Intranet Solutions, Interactive 96, Support Services and Computer Training  Support.

    About Core Competence: Core Competence, Inc. is a full-service internetworking, fast packet, and network management consulting firm, located in Dresher, Penn.  The company's consulting services range from user needs assessments, and internetworking and network management product evaluations, to system and interface design and network management software integration. The company also performs competitive analyses and evaluates emerging fast packet, Internet, and network management technology through simulation, prototyping and performance analysis.  Additional services include:  product and equipment evaluation; beta testing of ISDN equipment; research and development of Internet, WAN and network management technologies; as well as standards development and design, development and customization of network management applications.  The company's staff have provided leadership roles in industry, national and international standards organizations for over 15 years.

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