With a new partnership in hand and a whack of new gear, 3Com Corp. said it is ready to once again turn its focus to the high-end local area network (LAN) market.

At the CeBit America conference in New York on Wednesday, the network gear maker announced its newest switch, the 3Com 7700, a modular switching chassis that incorporates Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching functionality.

According to 3Com, the 7700 seven-slot switch supports up to 48 gigabit Ethernet ports, up to 288 Fast Ethernet ports and offers a performance of 96Gbps.

“(The 7700) has all of the functionality you would expect from a modular system including…standard routing protocols such as RIP advanced security functionality, such as SNMP version 3, and advances convergence functionality such as outbound traffic shaping,” said Bipin Mistry, technical marketing manager for 3Com in Boulder, Colo. “3Com customers have been asking for a modular solution. The 7700 will allow 3Com existing customers as well as new customers the ability to scale beyond 2,500 users.”

The 7700 is also the first product to hit the market as a result of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s joint venture with law-troubled Huawei Technologies Inc. The Hong Kong communications equipment provider has found itself in an ongoing legal battle with San Jose-based Cisco Systems Inc. Cisco has accused Huawei of copying parts of Cisco’s IOS software, and a U.S. District Court ruling last week will prevent Huawei from selling its own router operating system, which contains technology from Cisco’s Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol. 3Com said Huawei’s Cisco problems will not affect the joint venture.

In addition to the 7700, 3Com has also announced complementary additions to its Extendable Resilient Networking (XRN) line of switches. The company has released the 4070, a fixed-configuration gigabit switch, which supports 24 gigabit Ethernet ports. The addition enables customers to manage 3Com switches in different locations as a single device.

The company has also announced gigabit Ethernet switching software that enhances XRN functionality, as well as XRN Extension software, which 3Com’s Mistry said will allow XRN devices to scale as businesses grow.

For more information, visit the company’s Canadian Web site at www.3Com.ca.