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Optical/IP

CeBIT Schnippets

HANGOVER, Germany -- CeBIT 2004 -- Europe's biggest technology trade fair opened its doors today, and while the hordes headed straight for the mobile phone stands to check out the latest multicolored handsets and Britney polyphonic ring tones, some of telecom's heaviest hitters were doing their bit to attract some attention.

So here's the pick of today's announcements, best washed down with a flagon of frothy Furstenburg.

  • Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI) cheered its investors with a lucrative network upgrade deal at Belgacom. Belgium's national operator has signed a three-year deal -- believed to be worth tens of millions of euros -- for Marconi's latest optical gear. (See Belgacom Upgrades With Marconi.)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) befuddled attendees to its press conference with a bewildering array of enhancements and acronyms regarding its Catalyst enterprise switches. In a nutshell, Cisco is claiming greater security, faster processing speeds, more bandwidth, and enhanced Ethernet capabilities. (See Cisco Beefs Up Catalyst.)

    Mark De Simone, a marketing VP for the EMEA region, claims these enhanced capabilities take Cisco closer to an intelligent enterprise network that can recognize specific applications, such as VOIP, and deal with the packets appropriately and securely. Nobody argued with him.

  • Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), meanwhile, was getting excited about bringing its Multimedia Communication Server (MCS) 5100 (Release 2) to Europe. The platform supports SIP and H.323 and works with other vendors' legacy voice gear as well as Nortel's own, according to the Canadian vendor. (See Nortel Offers MCS 5100 to EMEA.)

  • Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) followed in Lucent Technologies Inc.'s (NYSE: LU) wake by announcing an agreement with the Deutsche Telekom AG's (NYSE: DT) fixed line business, T-Com, to help it develop VOIP services. (See T-Com, Alcatel, Siemens Partner on VOIP and Lucent Parties at CeBIT.)

    T-Com's CTO Roland Kittel says T-Com is developing services -- "more than just VOIP" -- for small business users, that will be launched later this year. "We've got the largest MPLS-based IP network in the world, and we're going to use it!" boasted Kittel at a CeBIT breakfast briefing. "Size does matter," he didn't add.

    Alcatel also announced an R&D partnership with France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE) for the development of next-generation services and a converged fixed/mobile network. (See Alcatel Does NGN With FT.)

  • Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) announced a deal in Spain with ISP Arsys Internet S.L. (not pronounced Arse's Internet). But the deal is to supply Laurel Networks Inc.'s ST200 B-RAS, which the ISP needs for handling increasing volumes of data from its business broadband customers and for the future provisioning of additional services such as VPNs. (See Ciena, Laurel Win in Spain.)

  • Peer-to-peer VOIP upstart Skype announced some partnerships with handset and headset vendors. (See Skype Announces Partners.)

  • ECI Telecom Ltd. (Nasdaq/NM: ECIL) enhanced its mini MSPP, the XDM(r)-100, targeted at fixed and wireless access networks. ECI has added an Ethernet Interface and Switching Module (EIS-M) card to handle voice, data and video services over Ethernet and SDH/Sonet. It also extended its DSL equipment deal with T-Com. (See ECI Adds Data Interfaces and ECI Gets T-Com DSL Extension.)

    Separately, ECI's softswitch offshoot Veraz Networks upgraded its chief product and announced a European customer. (See Veraz Upgrades Softswitch and Veraz Signs VOIP Trunking Deal.)

  • VOIP gateway vendor VegaStream has teamed up with Siemens as part of the German firm's OpenStream SIP software suite. Vegastream's gateways are used by companies looking to extend the SIP services beyond the LAN to remote offices.

    Stay tuned for more CeBITs and pieces as the show develops...

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

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