Lucent and Global Crossing put LambaRouter on routes

Lucent Technologies Inc. announced Tuesday a much-needed advance with a major customer in its optical networking program.

The company said it has begun live network testing of its WaveStar LambdaRouter with Global Crossing Ltd. after completing joint work in the lab.

By year-end, Global Crossing hopes to begin offering wavelength services directly to customers under a concept Lucent calls “point-and-click wavelength provisioning.”

The announcement comes at a critical time. Lucent shares have dipped to a two-year low, largely on concern over Lucent’s sluggish progress on optical networking compared to Nortel Networks. Lucent’s problems this week have led to market speculation over the future of Lucent CEO Rich McGinn. They also come right as Lucent prepares to complete the spinoff of Avaya, its former enterprise-networking division, next Monday.

Numerous long-time Lucent officials have recently left the company. They include 30-year Lucent and AT&T veteran Harry Bosco, who had been heading up optical networking, and Patricia Russo, former executive vice president of service provider networks. Lucent is increasingly being run by those who have come in via acquisitions, including Jeong Kim, now group president of Lucent’s Optical Networking Group. Kim is former head of Yurie Systems, which Lucent acquired in 1998.

Kim hailed Global Crossing’s testing of the LambdaRouter as a landmark in Lucent’s optical roadmap. “While some in the industry debate the practicality of deploying all-optical switching, Global Crossing and Lucent Technologies are committed to making it happen,” he said in a prepared statement.

Designed by Bell Labs, the WaveStar LambdaRouter uses a series of microscopic mirrors to direct and route optical signals from fiber to fiber without converting them to electrical form. The system, which acts like an optical traffic cop, is designed to enable Global Crossing to route up to 10 terabits of information per second.

Lucent shipped the first LambdaRouter to Global Crossing on July 31. After lab testing, Global Crossing began live network testing on Sept. 22, by using the system to route 2.5-gigabit wavelengths across its AC-1 transoceanic cable. The LambdaRouter is being tested on a route connecting New York, Brook Haven, N.Y., and Whitesands, England.