June 1, 1999
Lucent Makes Move to Packet World
By Ken Branson
Lucent Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J., made its long-awaited packet move in late
April, announcing two products to help it and its customers make the transition from the
circuit-switched world to the packet-switched world. The R/Evolutionary Networking
portfolio is aimed at carriers that already have Lucent’s 5ESS switches. The PathStar
Business Exchange package, on the other hand, is aimed at competitive local exchange
carriers (CLECs), Internet service providers (ISPs) and other startups.
Several switch and router makers have made moves in the same direction. Nortel
Networks, Toronto, announced a package with a similar intent in February. The Nortel
Succession Network currently is undergoing a trial with SBC Communications Inc., San
Antonio, and will be ready to ship in the fourth quarter. At the time, Rod McPherson, vice
president-next-generation networks at Nortel, said other competitors had similar
platforms, "but the call server is the part they haven’t figured out yet."
Penny St. Clair-Holmes, director-Succession marketing North America at Nortel, says
that Succession is now in trial with AT&T Corp. and France Telecom, Paris. "My
first reaction (to Lucent’s announcement) was that I was wondering when Lucent was going
to come up with a solution that looks very much like Succession," she says.
Besides Lucent and Nortel, Siemens A.G., Munich, Germany, put together some of its own
divisions with two Massachusetts startups to make Unisphere Inc., Burlington, Mass. Cisco
Systems Inc., Alameda, Calif., and Telcordia Technologies Inc. (formerly Bellcore),
Morristown, N.J., also have formed an alliance to build packet solutions.
Lucent says the heart of its new R/Evolutionary Networking portfolio of products, the
7R/E Call Feature Server, will deliver over asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) or Internet
protocol (IP) networks virtually all the 3000 features and services now available on the
public switched network, with the same voice quality and reliability. US LEC Inc.,
Charlotte, N.C., will deploy the 7R/E Call Feature Server later this year, and KMC Telecom
Inc., Bedminster, N.J., will conduct a trial of the 7R/E later this year, company
The PathStar Business Exchange and its previously announced mate, the PathStar Access
Server, are supposed to help newcomers deploy voice and data services while slashing the
cost of doing so by 70 percent, company officials say.
Frank D’Amelio, Lucent’s vice president-switching, says the R/Evolutionary Networking
portfolio will allow Lucent’s customers to offer packet communications over local, long
distance and international networks, saving money and quality along the way. "Some of
our competitors may have the piece parts, but none offers the whole package," he
Analysts are positive about the move. "I think it’s a significant announcement
when one of the two leaders in circuit voice makes the announcements for the rollout of
packet voice," says Joe Skorupa, director-switching and routing at Ryan Hankin Kent,
South San Francisco, Calif. "It’s significant that they would give us all 3,000
features we have on the network today."
"7R/E is hot stuff," says Hilary Mine, executive vice president at Probe
Research Inc., Cedar Knolls, N.J. "It’s hot stuff because it’s a multivendor
solution, and their previously announced product was not."
"The story here is that the competition for Lucent is not Cisco, but Nortel,"
"Cisco, along with Telcordia, is trying to create the software, the tandem network
software and the call-feature software, from whole cloth," Skorupa says. "That
is an immense amount of software. Meanwhile, you’ve got Lucent and Nortel saying, ‘Hey,
guys, we have this (software), we wrote it and you have it in your network today, and it
This places Cisco and Telcordia in an ironically awkward position, Mine says.
"They’re having to reinvent the old world while Lucent and Nortel reshape the new
one," she says.
Nonetheless, Mine says, Cisco and Telcordia probably will figure it all out,
"because they’re really smart people."
"It’ll be a really interesting market in the next six months or so," Skorupa
Cisco and Telcordia spokespeople could not be reached for comment.
Read more about:Agents
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like