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Thrusting young Canadian data communications equipment Gandalf Technologies Inc of Ottawa, Ontario, has introduced the Nucleus 7000 X25 packet switching node into the UK market – over a year after it was first launched in Canada. The technology, which is based on the IBM Personal AT, was developed and is sold in the US by Amnet Inc, Framingham, Massachusetts, and Gandalf has an OEM agreement to badge and sell the product, which is also sold through other distributors. The Canadian company says it is aiming to clinch between 10% and 15% of the UK private network packet switching market over the next five years, and also plans to start marketing to other European countries by the end of this year. Nucleus 7000 comprises network management, concentrators and switching nodes known as N7900, N7400, N7200 respectively. No prices will be released until June although Gandalf claims that the operational and installation costs will be up to 69% lower than average because the product is AT-based and costs are still dropping. Alex Brisbourne, divisional sales services manager, countered charges that Gandalf is making a late entry into the market with the claim that Nucleus 7000 offers comprehensive facilities including higher level network management than rival offerings. Nucleus uses a proprietary packet switching protocol rather than the X25 standard, and uses the datagram mode of transmission where packets are released into the network and each packet or envelope of data contains routing information to ensure its safe arrival. Datagram was dropped from the 1984 X25 specification in favour of the virtual circuit method which sets up the call to known destination at the start of transmission, because that is what most users wanted. Andrew Hardie of consultancy Oval Automation Ltd said that datagram transmission is generally regarded as more appropriate to the local area network environment. He expected a rash of loosely X25-based network products to come onto the market since the cost of chips has declined so much.

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