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Optical/IP

Lucent Shakes Up Optical Group

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) announced today that it’s restructuring its optical networking group and slicing it into two parts: an optical core division and a metropolitan area network division.

The restructuring comes on the same day Harry L. Bosco, the president of optical networking, announced that he will retire after 35 years working for AT&T and Lucent. Bosco, 55, took over as head of the division after Gerald J. Butters left in December 1999 to become VP of strategic marketing, says a spokesperson.

Rumors have circulated throughout the industry over the past week that Bosco was forced out of the job because of poor performance (see Bosco To Go?). Lucent’s spokespeople emphatically deny that. “Harry has said for a long time that he wanted to leave when he hit his 35th anniversary,” says a spokesperson. “And that was just last week.”

Replacing Bosco is 39 year-old Jeong Kim, who is the former head of Yurie Systems, acquired by Lucent in 1998. Kim worked closely with Bosco since December 1999 as chief operating officer of Lucent’s optical networking group, and in his new role will report to Pat Russo, executive vice president and CEO of Lucent's Service Provider Networks group.

Heading up the shifted metro division is Bob Barron, former head of Chromatis Networks, which was acquired by Lucent in June 2000 for $4.5 billion. Barron will oversee a combined portfolio of Lucent and Chromatis products focused on metro optical networks. This portfolio includes the Lucent Chromatis platform, the WaveStar metro products -- DataExpress 10G, AllSpectra OLS, and AllMetro OLS -- the Ignitus 3500 Integrated Access Switch, and other related metro products.

His entrance into the Internetworking Systems group comes only days after Light Reading reported that Steve Kaufman, vice president and general manager of core switching in the same division, is leaving to work for Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI) (see Avici Nabs Lucent Exec) Lucent has confirmed that Kaufman is leaving, but would not say where he was going. Lucent has suffered setbacks this year as it trails arch rival Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/TSE: NT) in several key areas. One mistake that still haunts the company is its late entrance into the 10-Gbit/s equipment area. When planning its strategy, Lucent had expected customers to adopt DWDM much more quickly than they have, and the company scrambled in early 2000 to come up with a product line to meet customer needs, a company spokesperson says.

The appointment of two outsiders to head up key divisions in the company is a shift from Lucent’s tradition of promoting from within, and it appears as though the company is counting on Kim and Barron’s entrepreneurial experience to kick-start these two divisions and get them back on track. In particular, the company hopes that adding the Chromatis access products to the internetworking division will help developers integrate the products more quickly and get them to market faster, a problem which has plagued them in the past, says the spokesperson.

Whether or not Lucent’s new restructuring will help the company or not is still up in the air. But in late afternoon trading, the news didn’t appear to have had much impact on share prices.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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