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Optical/IP

A Night of Lighties

NEW YORK – Congratulations to all the the winners of Leading Lights awards, and thanks to all who attended last night's awards dinner at the Pierre Hotel. (See LR Names 2005 Leading Lights Winners and Leading Lights Finalists.)

The highlight of the evening, of course, had to be Lucent's reception of two awards, and the appearance of Patricia Russo, the CEO of (NYSE: LU), who reeled in her first Industry Statesman award. Lucent's chief marketing officer, John Giere, accepted Lucent's award for Best Marketing on its IP Multimedia System (IMS) campaign.

It's true, when Lucent was named the winner, a collective gasp could be heard in the audience.

Was it possible? Lucent, known for being the target of jokes in Light Reading, accepting not one – but two awards?

Well, sure, why not? Yes, we like a good joke at anybody's expense – especially during Lucent's "good 'ole days." (See 50 Ways To Leave Your Lucent .) But sometimes you have to adjust to reality, and it's clear that Lucent made some waves in the IMS market in 2005.

Don't know what IMS is? Check out this report, one of the most widely read LR documents in 2005: IMS Guide.

While we were collecting nominations and feedback on this year's Leading Lights entries, many Heavy Reading analysts and Light Reading editors took note of Lucent's technical headway in the new IMS category, and this quickly became "the story." It was also clear that Patricia Russo had made this part of her own personal mission, which was key to winning some big customer accounts. (See Lucent Beats Estimates, Bets on IMS, Cingular Picks Lucent for IMS, Lucent Lands BellSouth IMS Deal, Lucent in the Lead for Verizon IMS?, and SBC Jumps on Lucent IMS Bandwagon.)

Will Lucent ultimately succeed in a market that is as murky and hard to define as IMS? It's still too early to tell. As Stuart Elby, the vice president of architecture and enterprise services at Verizon, said yesterday at The Light Reading Telecom Investment Conference, IMS is built for certain things – such as real-time communications applications – but not others. It's a broad basket of software technologies with many technical details yet to be determined.

But Lucent has jumped ahead on the perception front – and that's what good marketing is all about. That's why it won the awards. And as for the mythical Light Reading vs. Lucent baggage? Well, time to put it behind us (unless, perhaps, there's a sudden return to the Rich McGinn era). (See Lucent Shares Hammered by $125M Goof and Rich McGinn.)

I don't know if any of the other awards were "shocking," but here are some of the other big ones:

  • Cisco: (Nasdaq: CSCO) won the award for M&A strategy. Cisco, with its rapid-fire acquisitions strategy, is always a threat to win this one. But judges felt there were two clinchers: the announced plan to acquire Scientific-Atlanta Inc. (NYSE: SFA), which now has competitors scrambling find their own set-top box strategies; and, of course, competitor 's (Nasdaq: JNPR) arrogant statement that "it has no acquisition strategy" because it doesn't need one.

  • Wireless wave: The Leading Lights featured some hot new wireless products, including the Ruckus Wireless Inc. Wireless Multimedia System and the Airgo Networks Inc. AGN300 MIMO chipset. Airgo won that one, but Ruckus CEO Selina Lo took Industry Statesman, Private Company honors. So, two women took the Statesmen awards. Maybe we need to change the name?

  • FiOS en fuego: Verizon's Stu Elby was a hit with the crowd at the Telecom Investment Conference – but what do you expect when somebody who controls billions of dollars of budget shows up in a room in midtown Manhattan filled with investors, service providers, and technology gurus? At any rate, Elby's elegant explanation of Verizon's IPTV strategy went a long way to justifying why FiOS was an award winner – and still the only way you can get video and data services over fiber from a North American RBOC. (See Verizon's Elby: IPTV Could Take Years.)

  • Force10 Future: Force10 Networks Inc., which last year was nominated as a finalist in five categories but came home empty, finally took home the Lightie for top IPO or M&A candate. We noticed, however, a particular silence from the Force10 representative, along with some cryptic comments from officials saying the lawyers told them they could not comment. Quiet period, anyone?
Stay tuned, we'll have more photos and even some video from the party tomorrow. Congratulations again to all of the finalists and winners.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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