Lucent lines up IP partnerships

Lucent Technologies Inc. is forming partnerships to fill the gaps in its IP/MPLS portfolio following the recent cancellation of its multiservice core packet switch.

Sources say Lucent is in discussion with Juniper Networks Inc. to offer Juniper’s routers for wireline IP/MPLS. The structure of the potential arrangement is unclear, but Lucent would become another large systems player, along with Nortel Networks Corp., Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Siemens AG, marketing Juniper routers to joint customers.

Lucent, in turn, would provide the ATM overlay component of Juniper’s recently announced MINT revenue-generation architecture, sources say. Lucent is a leading supplier of ATM switches to carriers.

On the wireless side, Lucent is considering lining up Cisco Systems Inc. to provide IP/MPLS technology. Lucent is dual-sourcing its IP/MPLS capabilities because it views Cisco as a wireline competitor, sources say, while Juniper has a joint development relationship with Lucent competitor Ericsson for Gateway General Packet Radio Service Support Nodes (GGSN) in mobile wireless IP networks.

Again, the structure of a possible partnership with Cisco is unclear, but it is likely to involve joint marketing of Cisco GGSNs with Lucent CDMA, UMTS and other 3G wireless access, base station and switching products. It may also involve joint development. With both vendors, Lucent could add its professional services capabilities to the partnerships, potentially generating more revenue for all parties, services revenue for Lucent and additional product sales for Juniper and Cisco.

Some analysts feel, however, that the parties would keep the alliances “loose,” as merely sales channels.

“It’s just one more relationship for the company,” says Nikos Theodosopoulos of UBS Warburg LLC. “I don’t think (it will involve) a lot of collaboration.”

Lucent and Cisco would not comment on these developments, characterizing them as “rumours.” Juniper did not respond by press time.

Sources say the Juniper deal could be announced later this quarter.

Lucent stated its intention to pursue partnerships to fill in IP/MPLS and other multiservice gaps in its product portfolio following the discontinuation of the TMX 880 IP/MPLS core multiservice switch in October. Lucent has been paring back development and marketing of products that do not provide an immediate potential revenue stream.