Alcatel-Lucent CEO: Stimulate broadband

Stimulus packages that are being put in place in response to the global financial crisis are overly focused on physical infrastructure, and not the digital agenda, said Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen, during his keynote at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, last week.

“It’s very clear that the stimulus packages are written mostly by people who live in the physical world, and that is my generation and older,” said Verwaayen.

The goal should be to build an economy that has competitive opportunities going forward, and not rebuilding the economy that was, according to Verwaayen. The last thing people want to get rid of during the downturn is their Internet connection, according to Verwaayen, and the stimulus packages haven’t mirrored that reality, he said.

“Every country in the world is talking about stimulus packages, and most countries have a feeling that somewhere, somehow the digital agenda should be a part of it. In my view it should be a major part.”

However, many European operators aren’t looking for hand-outs, and are willing to build new broadband networks if the right environment is in place, Verwaayen said.

It’s great that operators are working together on broadband access in countries such as France and Germany, but it’s not enough, he said. “We can’t do it nation by nation. We need to have a European context. We need Europe to step up and take leadership, and say this is how we are going to encourage investments,” said Verwaayen.

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Since Alcatel-Lucent in December announced its intention to push LTE (Long Term Evolution) at the expense of mobile WiMax it has had to field questions about the future of WiMax. WiMax is here to stay as a technology to get broadband access to users not yet covered by other technologies, according to Verwaayen.

“We see it more as an extension of the DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) footprint. We don’t think it’s a viable option to compete against LTE as a mobile only activity, but other people may have different views,” he said.

Like at so many other shows green IT is on top of the agenda at Cebit, and to Verwaayen it doesn’t matter if companies are in it because they are genuinely concerned about the environment or to save money.

“I don’t care what the real motives are; the effect is what matters,” said Verwaayen.

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