AlcaLu Signs SFR, Thinks Mobile
Alcatel-Lucent has already contracted to provide UMTS equipment to SFR, and the two have been doing research into mobile TV. (See AlcaLu, SFR Sign Contract and Alcatel, SFR Research.) But it turns out the wireless provider, France's second largest behind Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE), is also buying Alcatel-Lucent routers, the goal being to carry live voice traffic over IP.
The router contract hasn't been announced, but SFR has been telling analysts about it, Alcatel-Lucent officials say.
More generally, Alcatel-Lucent thinks its next wave of router demand will come from the cellular industry, as carriers' use of IP and MPLS spreads farther out from the network core.
"The basic idea of service routing has driven our business so far," says Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent's IP division. During the last two years, the service has been IPTV, with triple-play wins pushing Alcatel-Lucent to a second-place ranking in edge routing, according to some analysts. (See AlcaLu Boasts Router Success.)
Now, it's mobility, Alwan says, pointing to recent wins with China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See China Mobile Uses Alcatel's IP.)
"The evolution to all-IP wireless now is underway. It's going to be a slow, protracted process, but I think this is going to be a hot growth area in IP/MPLS," says Mark Bieberich, an analyst with Yankee Group Research Inc.
Alcatel-Lucent says its advantage in mobile networks is high availability -- the ability to recover quickly from failures without losing traffic. The cellular industry already has a reputation for dropping calls, so the thought of tossing voice traffic to the whims of an IP network isn't so comforting. Alcatel-Lucent, meanwhile, claims to have crafted a router that's superior in its high-availability features.
Alcatel isn't alone in chasing wireless carriers, of course. Bieberich notes that Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) has some wireless wins under its belt, too. "They're starting to talk more about what they can do for wireless service providers, not only in routing but in security," he says. (See Juniper Secures T-Mobile.)
Redback Networks Inc. could make some noise in this space as well, now that it's owned by wireless incumbent Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading