Lucent gets US$5 billion contract from Verizon Wireless

Lucent Technologies Inc. finally caught a break today after being steadily pummeled by financial problems since last fall.

The beleaguered vendor of telecommunications equipment announced a contract, valued at $5 billion over the next three years, to supply Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless Inc. with infrastructure technology that will be used as part of a nationwide third-generation (3G) mobile network. Deployment of the 3G-technology is scheduled to start later this year, the two companies said.

The 3G network planned by Verizon Wireless will be based on Lucent equipment that supports the latest version of the Code Division Multiple Access technology standard developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association. The network will carry mobile voice traffic and should provide untethered data transmission speeds that rival those of wired connections, according to Lucent and Verizon Wireless.

A Verizon Wireless spokesperson said the provider achieved data speeds of 144K bit/sec. during tests of the technology in New Jersey. Verizon Wireless, formed last year through a merger of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone AirTouch PLC, will be the first to roll out the new equipment. The spokesperson declined to disclose the geographic areas where the roll out will take place.