Hail Mary: Chan Takes 4G Helm at AlcaLu
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has ambitions to be a big player in next-generation mobile broadband technology Long-Term Evolution (LTE), and long-time AlcaLu wireless executive Mary Chan has emerged as the one to lead those efforts.
Chan will go to the mobile industry's premier event, the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona next month with the new title of President of End to End 4G/LTE Networks, and will layout AlcaLu's LTE strategy to Unstrung and its media colleagues. [Ed. note: With that title, her business card must be a 3x5.]
Mary Chan will be responsible for the one wireless technology that CEO Ben Verwaayen has singled out as critical to Alcatel-Lucent's future. (See Verwaayen Unveils AlcaLu's New Plan and AlcaLu's New Vision: More Convergence.) But more than that, she'll have a hand in determining whether AlcaLu can stay in the mobile business at all. (See AlcaLu Down, But Not Out, in Q3 and CDMA Hits AlcaLu's Wireless Biz.)
The LTE stakes are that high for AlcaLu. If the vendor misses its shot at 4G fame and glory, then its long-term position as a top mobile infrastructure supplier would be extremely vulnerable.
Indeed, Heavy Reading senior analyst Gabriel Brown thinks failing to deliver on LTE could spell the end to AlcaLu's mobile business. (See Verwaayen: Nearly All Right on LTE.)
"It would be a mortal blow if they don't do well in LTE, but they ought to do well because they're putting in the investment and doing some interesting stuff on the product side," says Brown, who recently analyzed vendors' LTE radio access network equipment in his report, "LTE Base Stations and the Evolved Radio Access Network."
The way the market looks now, AlcaLu is well placed to capture some success with LTE. While Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. have won early deals at Telia Company , and Nokia Networks and Ericsson got a piece of the LTE action at NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), AlcaLu's ace is Verizon Wireless . (See TeliaSonera: We'll Do 4G in 2010, DoCoMo Picks Ericsson LTE, and NSN, Fujitsu Team for DoCoMo LTE.)
Verizon has already selected AlcaLu as a supplier in its LTE trials. (See AlcaLu Tests 4G and AlcaLu, LG Make LTE Calls.)
Alcatel-Lucent's massive share of the CDMA market will stand it in good stead for 4G, because CDMA operators, like Verizon, are moving ahead quickly to LTE. Verizon, for one, has an aggressive timescale and wants to launch commercial LTE services in the first half of 2010. (See Verizon's FiOS Grows, Wireless Slows in Q4, Verizon Goes LTE, and Verizon, Vodafone Head for LTE.)
Here's Chan's new job description, which an Alcatel-Lucent spokesman emailed to Unstrung:
- Mary Chan's new role as President of Alcatel-Lucent's End to End 4G/LTE Networks is within the solutions and marketing organization that is led by Kenny Franks. In this new role, which was effective on January 1, 2009, her organization has end-to-end responsibility globally for the LTE strategic solutions, including global funding and resource management, solution definition, architecture and roadmap, third party management, partnerships, program management and solution validation.
Of course, Keryer's product people have to deliver the LTE goods, but Chan will be the one to persuade the market and operator customers about how great they are. As a North American exec, Chan would certainly have established customer relationships to rely on when it comes to convincing operators of AlcaLu's 4G merit.
Since her role is end-to-end, perhaps Chan will illuminate the market on AlcaLu's Evolved Packet Core (EPC) product strategy at the MWC. Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has already snared a partnership with Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR). Will Alcatel-Lucent do likewise?
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung