Lucent bundles, brands convergence gear

Lucent Technologies Inc. this week bundled its voice-over-IP products and services under a common brand umbrella and said Qwest Communications International Inc. plans to deploy the technology as the foundation for its VoIP services.

Lucent tagged the “Accelerate VoIP Solutions” name to a slew of existing convergence products and professional services that are designed to allow service providers to offer and generate new revenue from IP-based voice, data and multimedia services. Such services include unified communications, multimedia messaging, location-based services, IP Centrex, and voice and data VPNs.

“Accelerate” is also intended to help carriers save money by converging services that up to now required multiple networks onto one packet-based infrastructure.

The Accelerate initiative is part of Lucent’s renewed emphasis on its convergence portfolio as a vehicle to stimulate growth for the company as it emerges from three years of wrenching restructuring. Janet Davidson, president of Lucent’s Integrated Network Solutions business unit, singled out VoIP as one of three “pockets of opportunity” for the vendor and the industry going into 2004.

Citing data from IDC, Lucent says the total market for VoIP equipment will reach US$15.1 billion by 2007 with a compound annual growth rate of 44 per cent. Citing research from Gartner Dataquest, Lucent says the VoIP services market is expected to reach US$11.3 billion by 2007 for service providers, with a compound annual growth rate of 27.2 per cent.

Products re-branded in the Accelerate portfolio include:

– Lucent Softswitch

– Lucent 5E-XC switch products and applications

– iGEN Compact Switch

– EBS Multimedia Portal

– PacketIN portfolio of applications and services

– Flexent mobile networking products

– AnyPath Messaging System

– AnyMedia Access System

– iMerge Gateway

– APX Universal Gateways

– MAX TNT Universal Gateways

– PacketStar Multiservice Media Gateways

– Lucent VPN Firewall

– Access Point IP Services Routers

– Navis iOperations software

– Lucent Worldwide Services

The Accelerate line also includes a new Lucent intelligent media gateway unveiled this week. The new gateway connects standard telephones to either the traditional voice network or to a VoIP network.

This capability is intended to enable service providers to evolve to a VoIP network that supports customers using standard telephones and services, or IP phones and services, including computer telephony. The gateway also offers emergency stand-alone capability to continue to switch 911 and intra-community calls if there’s an interruption in the line to the Lucent 5E-XC switch or Lucent Softswitch that controls it.

Lucent is working with software development partners to create services that can be delivered over the Accelerate network. With these products, applications and services, carriers can tailor service-delivery systems for enterprises, wireless networks, voice-over-broadband offerings, computer-based telephony, switch trunking, and “find me/follow me” capabilities that integrate phones, computers, personal digital assistants and other devices.

Accelerate is targeted at existing TDM environments and greenfield IP builds, Lucent says.

Under the Qwest arrangement, the carrier signed a three-year deal with Lucent to deploy the 5E-XC switch to replace older technology, consolidate end offices and lay the groundwork for migration of its network to VoIP. The 5E-XC switch provides components and interfaces for updating networks to enable them to provide new features, such as voice messaging and Web portals.

Qwest plans to integrate the 5E-XC switch into its existing local network. Qwest also plans to deploy Lucent’s new intelligent media gateway to connect existing customers to VoIP networks. This will position Qwest for an eventual transition from a 5E-XC network to softswitch control and transform its entire local network to VoIP.

The intelligent media gateway supports up to 10,000 lines in less than three bays and can be controlled by the 5E-XC switch or the Lucent Softswitch. Qwest will use services from Lucent Worldwide Services to support deployment of the 5E-XC.

It’s unclear how the Lucent softswitch deployment will affect Qwest’s use of Nortel softswitches already in its network. Two years ago, Qwest and Nortel announced that the carrier would use Nortel’s Succession Communications Server 2000 systems and gateway to trunk packet voice traffic from traditional local switches to the Qwest backbone.

Qwest and Nortel officials were not immediately available to comment.

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