Ballart Bolts From AT&T
Formerly vice president of broadband services for SBC Labs, Ballart reportedly is staying in California, working with the IP group formed around acquired startup TiMetra Networks. (See Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal.)
Neither Alcatel nor AT&T would comment, the latter citing a policy not to discuss personnel matters, but multiple sources closely involved with AT&T say Ballart left for Alcatel in December. One source, requesting anonymity, believes Alcatel initiated the move by recruiting him out.
Ballart couldn't be located for comment, so it's unclear whether the recent merger of SBC and AT&T had anything to do with his decision to say yes. For what it's worth, SBC seems to be running the show at the merged company. (See SBC Brass Dominates the New AT&T .)
Ballart had become a highly visible figure, giving talks about Lightspeed at various industry gatherings, including one run by Heavy Reading. (See SBC Exec Talks Lightspeed.)
Alcatel is the systems integrator chosen for Lightspeed, so Ballart and the company are obviously familiar with one another. Broadband projects including Lightspeed were a boon to Alcatel last year, as the company began staking its routers to IPTV. (See Alcatel Router Revenues Surge.)
The obvious question is whether Ballart's departure might affect AT&T's outlook for fiber build-outs -- but as part of SBC Labs, Ballart wasn't the one dictating SBC/AT&T's strategy. And it's doubtful that any one person's absence could derail the highly publicized Project Lightspeed.
Still, the carrier has lost a big-name proponent of fiber buildouts, and his departure might cause some furrowed brows at non-Alcatel equipment vendors. "Ralph and members of his team were pretty strong proponents of GPON," says one source who requested anonymity.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading