Alcatel-Lucent says focus on fast broadband, IP is key to comeback

Admitting to past company mistakes, CEO Michel Combes says the company is poised to take advantage of the rush to the cloud

By , IDG News Service |  Networking

It's still early days for some of Alcatel-Lucent's ventures. Nuage Networks, an Alcatel-Lucent internal startup in Santa Clara, California, for developing an SDN (software-defined networking) platform called VSP (Virtualized Services Platform), was launched in April.

There is a big opportunity for SDN in data centers, said Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent's IP Routing and Transport business. "Most data centers still run basic switching in their network," and new users have to be provisioned manually, Alwan said.

"The real power of SDN is how simple we make it to provision," Alwan said, in an interview. "We've sucked all the complexity out of the networking devices and put it into software," he said.

The VSP can work with routers and switches from any vendor, providing an alternative to Cisco Systems, which is likely to try to sell data centers on an entire range of products, Alwan noted.

"We have a real chance to challenge Cisco in the service provider market," Combes stressed.

Nuage has started to take purchase orders for the platform from both service providers and enterprises. Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent has had a string of successes with its LTE technology.

"Carriers are moving to ultra-broadband to gain competitive advantage," said David Geary, president of Alcatel-Lucent's wireless business. "There is a huge market-share benefit to being first mover."

During the tech symposium, Alcatel-Lucent announced that its all-IP EPC (Evolved Packet Core) portfolio has been selected to support the nationwide rollout of China Mobile's LTE network, set to be the world's largest mobile ultra-broadband network. China Mobile awarded Alcatel-Lucent 24 percent of its overall EPC network, making Alcatel-Lucent the primary EPC supplier for the entire LTE network.

In addition to offerings for macro networks, Alcatel-Lucent sees opportunities for its small cell product line. The company's small cell products extend coverage and capacity to hotspots and indoor locations, offering operators a cost-effective alternative to take some load off macro networks and quickly meet growing coverage and capacity demands, Alcatel-Lucent's Geary said.

Fixed broadband access network technology also falls within the scope of the Shift plan. While fixed networks were considered a low-growth market, Combes noted, VDSL2 vectoring, which boosts the bandwidth possible over telephony networks, is a strong business for the company.

Combes touched on some of the company's mistakes: "We missed Optical TDM and more importantly we missed W-CDMA."

Now, Combes said, "the ticket to win for us is the execution of the Shift plan."

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