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AlcaLu, Juniper, Cisco Share AT&T Domain Status

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) extended its rule of two suppliers per technology domain today by announcing a trio of preferred suppliers for its IP/MPLS/Ethernet/Evolved Packet Core network elements -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR).

News that Juniper was set to gain domain status leaked late Thursday. (See Rumor: Juniper Enters AT&T Domain.)

It's joined by its two main rivals in the IP/MPLS world, making the competition to land purchase orders in this area of the carrier's network particularly intense: When AT&T announced its Domain Supplier strategy in September last year, it said it would choose just two suppliers per domain. (See AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy.)

AT&T has always stressed, though, that "there is no guarantee of any business award" for companies chosen as domain suppliers. However, the status should give all three significant ongoing revenues in the coming years.

The choice of these three vendors makes sense. It gives AT&T plenty of options for its IP/MPLS router and Carrier Ethernet deployments.

It also gives Juniper a chance to prove itself as a credible supplier of Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology, a critical component in next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks. (See Evolved Packet Core for LTE and Who's Ready to Buy Evolved Packet Core?.)

But it has plenty of work to do, as Juniper is playing catch-up with AlcaLu, which has developed its own EPC based on its IP division's platform, and Cisco, which last year acquired mobile packet core specialist Starent Networks. (See Juniper Challenges Cisco in the Mobile Core, Juniper Looks Inward for Wireless, Interview: Basil Alwan & Lindsay Newell, AlcaLu IP Division, AlcaLu Bolsters LTE Core Strategy, and Cisco to Buy Starent for $2.9B.)

AlcaLu also holds radio access network (RAN) domain supplier status, giving it the chance to deliver the mobile access and packet core together. (See AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE.)

And as part of today's announcement, AlcaLu also announced that it has been chosen to supply equipment and professional services for the mobile backhaul network that shunts LTE traffic from the RAN to the core nodes.

That means AlcaLu has the chance to provide a broad LTE package -- access, backhaul, and packet core, with professional services -- to AT&T.

News that AlcaLu was in the running to be a backhaul supplier to AT&T dented Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), one of the carrier's incumbent backhaul suppliers, earlier this week. (See Tellabs on a Roll.)

Today's domain supplier news helped Juniper's share price gain 39 cents, 1.4 percent, to hit $28.19, while AlcaLu is up 2 cents to $2.71. Cisco is up 8 cents to $23.47.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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