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Alcatel & Nortel Push VOWLAN

The nascent voice-over-wireless-LAN (VOWLAN) market kicked into life today as two major incumbent vendors stepped up their 802.11 enterprise attacks, buying in technology from startups to add these capabilities to their product lines.

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) have announced separate deals, both vendors striking partnerships with Airespace Inc. and SpectraLink Corp. (see Alcatel Intros WLAN Products and Nortel Touts VOWLAN).

The deals confirm recent Unstrung reports that Airespace had OEM deals with both Alcatel and Nortel in the works (see Rumor du Jour: Nortspace? and Alcatel Seeking Switch Partner?).

"Airespace is involved with our OmniAccess products," says Alcatel spokesperson Ed Essa. "The access points and switches are all Airespace technology."

Meanwhile, Essa adds that SpectraLink is the French incumbent's OEM partner for its VOWLAN kit. "It will be Alcatel branded," he states.

Airespace already has a WLAN handset partnership deal with SpectraLink, which supplies the phones and quality-of-service software that allows voice traffic to be prioritized on an 802.11 network (see Airespace Talks Up VOIP).

Craig Mathias, a principal with the analyst and consulting firm Farpoint Group, says he expects to see more deals between incumbents and startups in the enterprise wireless LAN market in 2004. "It's indicative of the growth in the wireless LAN market." he says. "I think we'll see many more deals from major players over the course of this year."

"No vendor is an island," opines Airespace's VP of marketing, Alan Cohen.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, and Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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