Dell is launching its PowerConnect Ethernet switches in the UK, competing with 3Com, Cisco and HP. The switches have sold two million ports in the US, where they have been available for more than a year. The company is planning a Layer 3 product: "You can expect a Layer 3 product in the next year," said Kim Goodman, global general manager of Dell Networking. The current Layer 2 products are perhaps less sophisticated than Layer 3 products from other vendors, but they include Gigabit switches at low prices. "We are driving Gigabit aggressively to the desktop," said Goodman. "The last speed increase, to Fast Ethernet, happened in servers long before it reached the wiring closet." Other switch vendors, in particular Cisco and 3Com, have responded to Dell's move by withdrawing the agreements by which Dell used to sell their switches. Gaps in Dell's switch line are currently filled by the remaining reseller partners including Enterasys, Extreme and Nortel. Dell's switches, like some other Dell products, are designed by Dell but manufactured by partners. The range includes managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches, including Gigabit Ethernet. They are deployed near the edge of the network where not too much sophistication is required. "These are products that connect direct to PCs and servers," said Goodman. "They are the first port on the network." The products start at £90 for the 2016, a 16-port unmanaged Fast Ethernet switch, and include the 2124, a 24 port switch with a Gigabit uplink for £212, as well as the 2508, an 8-port Gigabit switch for £351. Managed switches include a stackable 24-port switch with two Gigabit links at £464 and extend up to the 5224, a 24-port all-Gigabit switch for £1758. Much like the HP switches launched last week, the Dell switches include 48-port switches in 1U enclosures, probably about the maximum density unless ports start coming out of both sides of the box.