Lucent's 3G Bit Part
UMTS is the European third-generation network standard, which comprises a wideband-CDMA radio interface overlaid on an enhanced GSM core network. In theory, this system should provide data transfer speeds of up to 2 Mbit/s, although initial networks are much slower in everyday use.
Today’s announcement sees Lucent making a song and dance over its contract to "support" the carrier’s 3G rollout in the U.K., Ireland, and Germany. In reality, however, this is little more than an upgrade to the core network, as Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has already won the major slice of the action. Last year Nortel sewed up the core network contract for the three countries, including delivery of base stations and unified packet IP core networks.
Lucent has been awarded the task of implementing its Packetstar software within mmO2’s ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) networks. Sometimes referred to as cell relay, ATM uses short, fixed-length packets called cells for transport. Information is divided among these cells, transmitted, and then reassembled at their final destination. ATM aims to reduce infrastructure costs through efficient bandwidth management, operational simplicity, and the consolidation of overlay networks. It's the world's most widely deployed backbone technology.
According to Lucent spokeswoman Emily Baxter, the project has commenced deployment and is evidence that the company does have a credible UMTS offering. “It follows our previous announcement in January with Orange," she tells Unstrung (see Orange UK Picks Lucent for 3G).”
Back in March, CEO Patricia Russo told Unstrung that Lucent's UMTS offering is suited to such multivendor contracts (see Lucent Sticking With UMTS).
Analysts remain unconvinced. IDC’s senior research analyst Paolo Pescatore plays down any suggestion of the vendor hitting the big time with this win. “They haven’t been able to capture enough share of the European market, and that is an opportunity which has been lost,” he believes. “They will certainly welcome the money, but you cannot put mmO2 in the same league as Vodafone and Orange. They are a minor player in the German market and have recently fallen back in the U.K.”
The win leaves Lucent still searching for its first full-scale UMTS network contract. Previous trials with T-Mobile International AG and Telefónica Móviles SA are yet to bear fruit (see Lucent Faces UMTS Crunch).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung