Lucent courts the 30 biggest carriers

Lucent Technologies Inc. will look toward major telecommunication service providers and wireless mobility products to pull the company out from its economic funk, describing in a Wednesday online conference the new core and metropolitan network gear, wireless base stations and other equipment to be offered next year.

Lucent began focusing on carriers when it spun out its enterprise networking business -- Avaya Inc. -- as a separate company earlier this year. The economic conditions emerging since then have forced Lucent to narrow its view even further, whittling its sales efforts and research down to the needs of its biggest and best customers.

"We used to sell into a market of thousands of service providers, but now we're focused on the top thirty in about 20 key countries," said Dick Muldoon, a Lucent spokesman.

Of the approximately US$289 billion in telecom equipment purchases Lucent expects will be made by service providers worldwide by the end of the year, the top fifty carriers are expected to account for 75 percent of sales. Three dollars of every four Lucent earns in revenue comes from its top thirty customers. The company's main competitors in the sector are Nortel Networks Corp., Alcatel SA, Ciena Corp. and Siemens AG.

Lucent's new wireline offerings reflect the narrowed focus.

The LambdaExtreme switch for DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) optical transmission is an ultra-longhaul system due for a March release that can carry 10G-bit traffic 4,000 kilometers or 40G-bit traffic 3,000 kilometers. The LambdaUnite -- due in January -- bridges core and metropolitan networks with the ability to switch 10G-bit and 40G-bit traffic on SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) networks at bandwidth of 1.28 terabits in a two-switch rack. LambdaManager -- due in May -- is a bulked-up version of LambdaUnite aimed at service providers' core networks, with 10 terabits of bandwidth capacity. Ciena's CoreDirector switch and similar products will compete with LambdaUnite.

Earlier in November, Lucent said it would quit some product lines to boost profits. It cut the MSC 25000, an ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) core switch for GX 550 and CBX 500 users. It also recently cut the Chromatis optical transport product line for smaller service providers.

Lucent's new focus leaves smaller carriers to either work with Lucent's sales partners like IBM Corp.'s Global Services division for Lucent gear, or to seek out Lucent's competitors who haven't given up on second-tier customers. "The smaller carriers aren't going to need a LambdaManager anytime soon," Muldoon said.

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