NCR Ltd has enhanced its local area network communication package, Towernet, to improve connectivity and allow operation in a Gateway environment. Expanded Towernet still operates under the Xerox-developed XNS networking protocols but the company adds – in its defence for not using the more popular, Unix-based, TCP/IP protocols – that the Tower does support TCP/IP through an Excelan-developed package and teasingly suggests that we may see a TCP/IP combined with Towernet announcement next spring. NCR cites XNS’ reduced verbosity as an advantage over TCP/IP. Expanded Towernet supports Ethernet links between Towers using dedicated Ethernet co-axial cables. Up to 128 sockets – data structures in networking software representing the end-point of a virtual circuit through the network – can be used on the Tower 32/800. The Gateway capability allows a Tower local net to be extended and provide communication services to other Tower systems on the same network. It can also connect through an X25 packet-switched network and to an IBM host mainframe running Systems Net-work Architecture. NCR says that Towernet can be upgraded to Expanded Towernet, transparantly to the user. Expanded Towernet costs UKP1,215 for the 32/400 and 32/600, rising to UKP3,370 for the top-end multi-68020-based 32/800. The company says that this is the first in a series of announcements that will extend the communications and networking capabilities of its product ranges.
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