Lucent switches on Spring Tide

As corporate strategy migrates to an IP for its core network, Lucent Technologies announced this week a wireless follow-up to its Spring Tide 7000 IP Service Switch unveiled last January.

The Spring Tide 7000 Wireless IP Service Switch will give telecommunications providers the ability to offer its corporate customers value-added services such as VPNs, managed firewalls, managed bandwidth, and quality of service that they now have over their wired network on a wireless network. The switch will also terminate and converge wireless data into the wired network. In addition, the wireless switch can recognise billing events, define standards for call detail records, and create unified billing for customers using the same carrier for wireless and wired lines.

The Spring Tide hardware falls under a business strategy Lucent calls "service intelligence." Service intelligence means that the switch has technology to recognise various types of premium services being accessed by a user, thus giving the telecoms the ability to base their rates accordingly and give providers a faster return on investment as they deploy 3G (third-generaion) wireless networks, according to Scott Hilton, vice president of product management at Lucent.

One industry analyst called the Spring Tide Wireless Switch a "reasonably significant" development because it recognises the need to offer advancements as standards bodies and large enterprises create implemental steps toward a core IP network.

"Look at where the core network infrastructure is going, from voice-centric circuit switch to more IP, packet data-type environment," said Phil Marshall, senior analyst at The Yankee Group.

Associated with that migration is the move from an older embedded switch architecture to a three-tier architecture with distinct layers for transport, control, and application. By allowing the telecom providers to treat each layer separately, each can be provisioned and optimized separately, thus giving wireless providers the ability to add services and integrate applications easily, Marshall said.

The new switch will become a gateway device between wireless and wired networks, according to Lucent's Hilton.

The wireless switch "converges the wireless protocols into wired; terminates or unwraps the data; looks at each user, and, based on the kind of services they subscribe to, routes them, for example to the Internet, into a VPN, as well as giving them QoS services," Marshall said.

Recognising the current economic downturn, Lucent will offer a pay-as-you-gain subscribers business model for Spring Tide switches. The Yankee Group's Marshall believes this concept is a logical development.

"The fee structure is a desirable pricing strategy from the perspective of Lucent taking some of the share and cost associated with migrating to the next-generation technology," Marshall said.

The wireless switches are expected to ship in the first quarter of 2002. Pricing starts at $US130,000 per switch, with each Spring Tide 7000 handling about 200,000 users, according to Lucent.

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