Optical/IP Networks

Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter

Another piece of optical innovation has just been consigned to the dustbin of history. Today, Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) confirmed that it would discontinue development of the LambdaRouter -- an all-optical switch based on tiny tilting mirrors.

With the telecom industry and, particularly, the core telecom market in a world of hurt, the decision is not surprising. Still, it must come as a bit of a shock within the company. Lucent executives had recently been talking up the product, and the LambdaRouter became part of a new program to make Lucent act more like a startup (see Lucent Tries On That Startup Look).

But no more -- the LambdaRouter is gone.

"We told employees in that group on August 12 that we would end development," says Lucent spokesperson Jenn McManus. "It's basically a market issue. It's a good product, it's viable, but the market just isn't there now." Lucent needs to focus its resources on products that will yield a more immediate return on investment, she says.

As a result of the decision, some Lucent staff will be laid off, although McManus isn't able to say how many. "We are looking for ways to minimize the impact, but yes, there will be layoffs."

In this day and age, the decision isn't a big surprise. Lucent has only announced two customers for the LambdaRouter -- Global Crossing Holdings Ltd., which has troubles of its own, and Japan Telecom -- and each customer is only thought to have bought a small number of switches (see Lucent's LambdaRouter Turns Japanese). France Telecom SA was also said to be testing the switch, but no purchase order had been announced. Even though each switch is said to be priced at around a million dollars, the contribution to Lucent's revenues would be minimal.

Lucent's in good company. Earlier this year Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), ended development of its Optera Connect PX, a monster all-optical crossconnect based on the technology it acquired from Xros (see Nortel Shuts Optical Switch Effort). Its reasons were the same as Lucent's -- carriers just aren't interested in optical switches anymore (see No Riches From Optical Switches ).

A few competitors remain in the market for Optical Crossconnects, such as startup Calient Networks Inc. Calient claims its all-optical switches have been deployed with Japan Telecom, which, as noted, was also a customer for the LambdaRouter (see Calient Captures a Contract). If true, Calient is in a prime position to pick up any future orders that Lucent can no longer fulfill. Indeed, Lucent's McManus says that the company is in discussions with its customers on how to "transition them."

Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV) and Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), which also make all-optical switches, may not be able to fill Lucent's shoes so easily. Their products switch smaller numbers of wavelengths, being designed around liquid crystal technology from Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), rather than MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) (see Corvis Upgrades Optical Switch).

Signs suggest, however, that Lucent loves its technology too much to abandon it altogether. The tiny tilting mirrors, whose images were omnipresent in 1999, will return to the lab -- which is where some say they belonged all along. "We are still committed to the optical switch concept, and will continue to work on the technology at Bell Labs," says McManus.

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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maryhadalambda 12/4/2012 | 9:56:18 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter MEMs is dead, baby. MEMs is dead
manoflalambda 12/4/2012 | 9:56:16 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter As a result of the decision, some Lucent staff will be laid off, although McManus isn't able to say how many. "We are looking for ways to minimize the impact, but yes, there will be layoffs."

Minimize the impact? hehe... Talk about spin. Not counting Managers, probably less than 10% of the remaining staff will find something in Lucent.

redneck 12/4/2012 | 9:56:15 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter >maryhadalambda said:
>MEMs is dead, baby. MEMs is dead

No, MEMS in NOT dead, baby, Telecom is dead. MEMS is in great shape. A few MEMS people got distracted for a few years after the rediculous Xros and Chronos acquisitions, and ran after telecom. Many are regaining their senses and returning to the almost infinite opportunities for MEMS in Bio, Automotive, aerospace, homeland security, and computing.

Sit back and watch as MEMS takes off in these and other areas. Bio/MEMS/Nano is the place to be.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 9:56:14 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter Are they going to continue pumping out new mirrors in Bell Labs? I thought Lucent was trying to stop wasting money, and with their shrinking R&D (unlike Nortel) I don't see why they would want to spend scarce funds on science projects like this.
maryhadalambda 12/4/2012 | 9:56:12 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter Anybody?
Touch 12/4/2012 | 9:56:11 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter #1 Airbag Sensor
#2 See #1
#3 See #2
#4 See #3
#5 See #4
redneck 12/4/2012 | 9:56:09 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter #1) HP Ink Jet Print Head ($Billions and $Billions)
#2) Analog Devices Accelerometer
#3) The dozen pressure sensors in every car you own
#4) The TI DMD device
#5) Affimetrix Gene Chip
#6) MEMS Gyro-Skid suppression systems in high end cars (soon to be in all cars)
#7) Agilent FBAR device (http://www.agilent.com/about/n...
#8) MEMS Based strain guages
#9) Emerging Integrated RF devices
#10) The one I am working on and not talking about.
manOman 12/4/2012 | 9:56:08 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter When Xros and other companies were acquired, I thought it was a great example of the industry maturing and collectively executing components research that turned into related products (systems). It is clear now that the easy come money, came from VC's with no wherewithal or long-term vision. It is all perceived value, if the lot of them and other stock trades had more than a namby-pamby attitude, the whole situation would be much better as in much more perceived value.

Now that the bubble has bursed, we seem to have created the opposite, negative space or a black hole that is sucking up as much as the bubble held. Now we have to restart an entire industry and return to normal space (where we were before this mess got started).
gea 12/4/2012 | 9:56:06 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter Gotta agree with Redneck here. We've only seen the very dimmest beginnings of MEMs.

And if you ask me, I don't think the telecom-applications for MEMs will restart with OXCs. Look for cheap modulators (MARS), simple switches, attenuators, and all sorts of other MEMs stuff to start creeping in, perhaps as fallouts from non-Telecom applications.
BenGrahamMan 12/4/2012 | 9:56:06 PM
re: Lucent Terminates the LambdaRouter http://www.rbcpa.com/companies...


>>E. Things I am looking for answers for right now

1. where does Lucent fit into the broadband cable group. We see that they recently mentioned Comcast as a customer, but they were vague on the type of deployment (if my memory serves me correctly)

2. what is going on with the Stinger product . Westlake, CA operations were closed and 100 were laid off. The remaining Stinger product will will work out of NJ. What effect will that have on current and future customers. Sprint announced today that they expanding its DSL footprint and product set. Interestingly enough, I am under the impression that Sprint recently announced it would be decommisioning DSL equipment in 32 markets and would "deliver service via an alternative platform". The alternate platform is Covad.

All in all , I am currently thinking that the Sprint activation of 94 markets could be either Lucent neutral or positive. Perhaps Covad could embrace Lucent. I am not very familiar with that part of the market to be relied upon for any technological discussion. I have been under the impression that the DSL market is slowing down. Until I hear differently, that is the stance I am currently assuming.

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