Lucent Lends Power to TeraBeam's Last-Mile Push

SAN MATEO (04/12/2000) - Lucent Technologies Inc. and TeraBeam Networks Inc. today hammered out a plan to jointly develop and deploy TeraBeam's wireless service that beams data over the air at speeds as fast as 1G bps (bits per second).

TeraBeam's Fiberless Optical service, which was first announced last month, attempts to solve the last-mile bottleneck of getting data and services from wide area to local area networks.

The two companies said that in addition to jointly developing TeraBeam's service, Lucent and TeraBeam will pool resources to create a new systems company that will deploy TeraBeam's technology. TeraBeam will own 70 percent of the company -- called TeraBeam Internet Systems -- and Lucent will hold the remaining 30 percent.

"With TeraBeam and Lucent together they will provide a wireless metropolitan area network that runs at Gigabit speeds," said Christopher Nicoll, director of optical infrastructure at Current Analysis, in Sterling, Virginia. "It should let enterprises see multimegabit and Gigabit rate service much more quickly.

Even if streets are getting dug up for fiber optic access, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's bringing service to your building. With TeraBeam, if you want service they can get it in a matter of days or weeks."

TeraBeam's service beams data wirelessly from strategically located POPs (points of presence) in metropolitan areas to transceivers that can be mounted in office windows.

The company said a prototype of the service has been in a trial basis for the past 18 months in Seattle, and TeraBeam said it plans to roll out service in three cities by the end of the year.

Lucent plans to merge its WaveStar OpticAir point-to-point wireless system with TeraBeam's Fiberless Optical service, which is point-to-multipoint. Lucent said the potential of its point-to-point technology was limited and that adopting TeraBeam's solution was a quicker path to market.

According to Nicoll, Lucent's established optical presence will give TeraBeam's technology a push into the marketplace.

"TeraBeam has (the( technology to go from the base station to the customer.

What they didn't have was the capability to network the base stations together," Nicoll said. "Lucent brings this (capability), as well as engineering, manufacturing, sales, and service."

Under the terms of the agreement, Lucent will invest cash, research, and development assets, intellectual property, and its own free-space optical products valued at US$450 million. TeraBeam said it has designated Lucent as its main supplier of optical components, network equipment, and professional services. In addition, all of TeraBeam's products will carry the Lucent brand, the companies said.

Lucent Technologies Inc., of Murray Hill, New Jersey, is at http://www.lucent.com/. TeraBeam Networks Inc., in Seattle, is at http://www.terabeam.com/.

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