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    Review of Cisco 760 Series Router

    The world of highspeed Internet is popping up in cities, suburbs and neighborhoods all over the planet so this month we have decided to move from analog 56k modems to the world of ISDN. The product of choice this month is Cisco's very own Cisco 760 Series ISDN Router.

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Cisco 760 Series Router This is a very popular router with ISP's around North America. If your business has 64 or 128K ISDN from your local ISP, check your telco closet, your server room or under your desk, you just might find one of these happy little routers. Or if you are a provisioning technician or from tech support at an ISP who has to set these routers up or troubleshoot when there is a problem... well either you're smirking right now, reminiscing about your initiation into provisioning when you were sat down, given a Cisco 760 series, and told, "go nuts". In many cases "go nuts" is exactly how you felt after a while when dealing with these interesting little routers.

    Compared to analog modems, these ISDN modem/routers are a blessing. ISDN routers such as this Cisco 760 Series can be much easier to configure setup and reliability is great, as long as your local telco has the ISDN connection up, you get a wonderful 64 or 128K to your ISP.

    Configuring a Cisco 760 Series can be quite easy. Cisco includes a wonderful graphical interface for you to use to configure your router. Very nice. Unfortunately very few end users ever make use of this CD mainly because the ISP you are connecting to via ISDN, usually configures the router for you, which is great! Most ISP's that have a provisioning department (some smaller ISP's might have just a few techs configuring routers besides doing tech support) don't use the graphical interface to configure the router. Many techs like myself, have a 760 template already made up so all we have to do is fill in roughly 12 or so blanks in of the config template. Pretty easy, actually very easy... Then we hook up a console cable (a lovely baby blue cable that comes with the router) to the router, fire up a telnet (serial cable connection) HyperTerminal etc... paste the config in. Reboot the router and bang, you're done. One fully configured router ready to be shipped out. Definitely easy process...

    There are some drawbacks to the 760 series routers. The big one is that the name "Cisco" is stamped on the router, but this router does not use Cisco IOS so if you are used to Cisco IOS and you pick up a 762 for example and try to configure it, well to put it mildly, it will be an adventure at first. =) There is no enable mode on a 760 series, when you make a change, no need to write mem, as soon as you type in your change and hit enter, bang, you just wrote that to memory. If you are running NAT/PAT, you can only open and map 15 ports to internal IP's, no big deal, if you need more then 15 ports open, you probably need more then ISDN anyway. Another limitation is that if you need to say give a customer a second public IP block, you can't just assign the customer a secondary IP on his Ethernet interface, that just isn't an option in a 760 series.

    The 760 Series is a fairly decent router. Its a bit cheaper then the more expensive Cisco 800 series ISDN routers but its less expensive because you are missing some of the quality and features found in the more expensive 800 series routers. If you have 64 or 128K ISDN and aren't doing anything off the wall, this router will do you fine. There are many other routers out there that don't compare to this router, but personally I expect more from a router with the name "Cisco" on it..

    Craig Stumpf

    Mark Breakdown:

    Category: Comments:

    Performance: These routers perform very well. You do get a full 64 or 128K from this router, but then again its ISDN, every ISDN router should give you a full 64 or 128K.. But this router does do a good job, say if the line goes down, as soon as the line comes back up, the router will dial back in and connect.

    Supportability: Oh boy tech support loves supporting these routers. Actually they aren't that bad, but you must be trained on 760's specifically, but general troubleshooting is fairly straightforward except there is no debug mode, (another drawback to not using real Cisco IOS on a Cisco product)

    Ease of Use/Configuration: If you are using a fairly standard template, and just filling in the blanks, then pasting it into the router, configuration is a joke, the Cisco configuration CD is also pretty easy to use. Again, if you aren't used to the OS of this router, you will waste a few hours fighting, err I mean learning.

    Compatibility: The 760 series is capable of PAP or CHAP so authenticating with your ISP is no problem (some ISP's use chap, and many ISDN TA's can't do CHAP..). I doubt there are many ISP's that a Cisco 760 Series can't be configured to connect to.

    Features: One nice feature of this router, all necessary cables you need to get your router up and running, are included in the box with the router, and they are colour-coded, so you can walk a customer through if necessary (Mr Customer, take out the red cable, please plug that into the red jack in the back of the router and plug it into the wall, etc..) As well, there is a nice little switch on the back of the router, so if you are plugging the router directly into say a firewall.. you need a crossover cable, but with this happy little router (most 760 models) you can flip a little switch to make the connection act like a crossover cable.

    One massive non-feature is that this router, does not use real Cisco IOS, which is a huge drawback. When you buy the router, you expect a Cisco router to have Cisco IOS.. not a cheap stripped down knock-off version (personal opinion there). One other major quirk of this router that really annoyed myself.. If you are doing a 64 to 128K upgrade remotely, all you should need to do, is change it to multilink ON and change the threshold/duration... Well in many cases you would telnet into the router, make your change, reboot the router, and guess what happens in almost half the cases (that I saw).. The channels didn't bond. A second 760 had to be configured and shipped out to the customer.. But as soon as you got the 760 back, blasted it, reconfigured it, it worked on both channels.. Its a little quirk, but it will increase your tech support costs reconfiguring routers and shipping them.

    Personal: You know, I didn't mind these routers in the end, but then again, I configured and set up probably 200 of them, so yes it became second nature configuring these little routers and getting used to all their quirks.

    Personally I prefer quality spend a bit more money and go for a Cisco 802 or 804 with real Cisco IOS and much more predictability...

    Overall: The Cisco 760's are pretty decent little routers, and do a great job for simple boring 64 or 128K ISDN. If your ISP gives you a fully configured 760 series, great, as long as you don't want to do anything funky with it, you're laughing and it will serve you well.. Otherwise spend a bit more money and upgrade to the Cisco 800 series routers. 70/100