Lucent's WaveSmith Killer

Lucent is prepping its multiservice answer to WaveSmith, but it won't see the light of day until summer

March 4, 2004

3 Min Read
Lucent's WaveSmith Killer

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) is prepping a compact, multiservice edge switch called the CBX 3500 that is being dubbed by some a "WaveSmith Killer" for its potential to compete with the product Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) got in acquiring startup WaveSmith.

The switch, designed to get a piece of the red-hot action in the multiservice edge market, won't be ready until sometime this summer, according to sources close to Lucent.

That's too bad for Lucent. Having just lost Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to WaveSmith/Ciena, it's clear that Lucent could have used the product earlier (see Ciena Seals Verizon Deal).

Still, some details Light Reading has uncovered about Lucent's new switch reveal that the vendor might have a nice answer to WaveSmith with the remainder of its installed base.

The new switch will come in a 16-slot chassis, so two will fit in a typical equipment rack. At first the switch will have 10 Gbit/s of capacity, which will grow to 35 Gbit/s in a second release planned for late 2004.

The switch will, according to sources familiar with the product, help carriers expand their ATM, Frame Relay, and private-line service businesses, while allowing them to add advanced services such as Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs, IP-enabled Frame Relay and ATM connections, and advanced Ethernet services.

The product couldn't come soon enough. WaveSmith is winning the minds and hearts of some carriers by offering a high-density, IP-enabled alternative to Lucent's carrier ATM switching products. Lucent's CBX 500 switch, which it got with its purchase of Ascend/Cascade Communications, has been the ATM switch leader, but Lucent has failed to follow it up... until now.

In September 2000, Light Reading reported that Lucent's next-generation ATM switch development hit a snag when a cadre of its ATM experts working on a switch code-named "Oz" reportedly jumped ship to start Équipe Communications Corp. (see Lucent Losing Grip on ATM Core?).

A year later, Light Reading reported that Lucent had bagged its MSC 25000 Multiservice Packet Core Switch, which was first touted as a "new flagship" in Lucent's core switching portfolio (see Lucent Bags High-End Switch).

But after all those fits and starts, Lucent finally has the CBX 3500.

Lucent's advantage, according to our sources, is that the new switch will be able to use the same linecards as the CBX 500, and it uses the same OSS (Navis iOperations) that is already working in most carrier networks. That appeal to carrier operational expense savings will help Lucent, along with the MPLS migration story Lucent can now offer via its partnership with Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR).

The disadvantage? Well, there's always the outside chance the product could be prohibitively late (see It's Christmas Time at Lucent).

Besides WaveSmith, the Lucent CBX 3500 will have other competitors, including edge boxes from Juniper (its new M320) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), which is preparing an edge router called Neptune (see Juniper Hatches the M320 and Nortel's Soft Sell).

Lucent was contacted for this story but declines to comment on unannounced products.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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