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Alcatel Strengthens Service Edge Story

Enhances its 7670 routing switch platform, hints about significant wins with US carriers

May 18, 2004

2 Min Read
Alcatel Strengthens Service Edge Story

In the last six months, Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has won two contracts with large U.S. incumbent carriers for its 7670 Routing Switch Platform (RSP), according to Jim Guillet, assistant VP of product marketing in the company's IP division.

Guillet won't name the carriers but says the announcements should follow soon, pending corporate approval. He spoke to Light Reading on the occasion of Alcatel's announcement of hardware and software improvements to the 7670 RSP.

The revelation shows that, while Alcatel may not be the most buzzworthy name in the multiservice switch space, its steady customer wins and product updates show it is most certainly a contender.

The French equipment vendor grabbed 17 percent of the $1.8 billion worldwide multiservice switch market in 2003, according to Kevin Mitchell, an analyst at Infonetics Research Inc. Mitchell, who included the 7670's edge and core configurations, says Alcatel placed fourth behind Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Today's product enhancement announcements from Alcatel highlight some of the success the vendor is having with carriers that have ATM networks but are aiming to offering IP/MPLS-based services. At KT Corp., for instance, the carrier wants to continue offering Frame Relay services, but it wants to begin transporting VOIP traffic, IP/MPLS, and Ethernet traffic across the same core as well.

Offering new services with a mix of protocols is possible using Alcatel's new linecard, which supports 2.4 Gbit/s of IP, MPLS, and ATM forwarding. A carrier could forward all of one type of traffic, or any combo of the above, using the new linecard.

The upgrade falls into Alcatel's two-fisted strategy for converging ATM and IP/MPLS networks. The 7670 sits inside ATM or other Layer 2 networks, transporting MPLS traffic. The 7750 Service Router, developed by the acquired TiMetra Networks, sits on IP/MPLS networks to carry Layer 2 traffic.

Alcatel's two-box approach stands in contrast to the consolidated approach offered by Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), with its M320 router. And it's much less sexy than Hammerhead Systems Inc.'s HSX 6000, which, like the 7670, has both ATM and MPLS control planes in the same box (see Hammerhead Strikes at the Edge).

The new card for the 7670, and the accompanying software updates that were also announced today, aren't a watershed event. But they do give proof that Alcatel is winning carriers over by making its offering equally attractive to ATM-centric carriers and newer networks.

"It is incremental, but I can't understate its importance," say Guillet.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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