Lucent preps new products

Lucent Technologies has a number of new products on tap to help its service provider customers manage the transition from legacy networking environments to next-generation packet infrastructures and applications.

The company has begun developing an IP/MPLS module for its CBX 500 ATM switches, says Janet Davidson, president of Lucent's Integrated Network Solutions business unit. Davidson's remarks were made at the UBS Warburg Global Communications conference in New York this week.

This IP/MPLS module is targeted at existing CBX customers who want to interface to an IP/MPLS core network instead of the ATM core they've been interfacing with up to now. Davidson did not go into details on the module's function but ostensibly it will assemble ATM cells into IP packets and then attach MPLS labels to those packets to steer them into the core network over distinct routes, or paths.

The module is intended to help the installed base of CBX 500 ATM switch users begin the migration to a packet-based IP/MPLS infrastructure. New customers will be encouraged to purchase a Juniper router for this function, Davidson said. Lucent and Juniper announced a joint development and marketing agreement last spring.

Availability of the IP/MPLS module for the CBX switches is about 12 months away, Davidson said.

Also on Lucent's roadmap is an Ethernet passive optical networking (PON) system for fiber-based broadband access for homes and businesses. Lucent has funded Bell Labs research into this Ethernet PON for future requirements of the Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) buildouts undertaken by Verizon Communications Inc., BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications Inc.

Current FTTP bids and proposals favor ATM-based PONs. But Davidson says FTTP will be a lengthy rollout encompassing multiple technologies.

"This is a not a five-year buildout," she says. "This can be 10 to 20 years and it's not based on a single technology."

The Bell Labs Ethernet PON could take 24 months or more to reach commercial availability, Davidson says -- "when customers would start thinking about that."

Additionally, Davidson says an IP DSLAM that Lucent recently announced is in two trials in Asia and could hit the general market early next year. This IP DSLAM sports a Gigabit Ethernet backhaul interface for vDSL applications, and will be fitted with ADSL 2+ modules at some point in the future, she says.

"We're back in access in a big way," Davidson says of the potential of the new IP DSLAM.

These product initiatives were inspired by the recent momentum in Lucent's INS group, which has made sequential revenue gains in the last three quarters and made a profit of US$138 million in Lucent's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September.

"This is a big, big step for our business," Davidson said, referring to the profit. "It allowed us to begin to focus on where we want to take the product portfolio for growth."

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