Lucent seeks IP partnerships

Lucent Technologies Inc. is lining up partnerships to fill in the gaps in its IP/Multi-protocol Label Switching portfolio after the recent cancellation of its multiservice core packet switch.

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

Lucent then would provide the ATM overlay component of Juniper’s recently announced Model for Integrated Network Transformation revenue-generation architecture, industry sources say. Lucent is a leading supplier of carriers’ ATM switches.

On the wireless side, Lucent is considering lining up Cisco Systems Inc. to provide IP/MPLS requirements in that arena. Lucent is dual sourcing its IP/MPLS capabilities because it sees 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.

The structure of a possible partnership with Cisco is unclear, but it is likely to involve joint marketing of Cisco GGSNs with Lucent Code Division Multiple Access, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System and other 3G wireless access; base station and switching products, and possibly 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.

But some analysts say the parties would keep the alliances “loose” – merely additional sales channels.

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

Lucent, Cisco and Juniper would not comment on these developments, characterizing them as rumours. Industry sources say the Juniper deal could be announced this quarter.

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