Docomo Locks Down 4G With AlcaLu

In giving Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s edge routers a new role in its commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) has added a new mobile security gateway to its next-gen infrastructure and given its incumbent supplier some stiff competition. (See NTT Docomo Deploys AlcaLu's Routers and AlcaLu's APAC Action.)

The AlcaLu 7750 routers that Docomo is deploying include integrated LTE security gateway functionality with IPSec technology. With this feature, AlcaLu –- in collaboration with partner Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY) -- has become an additional LTE security supplier to Docomo. (See 4G Forces Mobile Security Rethink .)

Previously, mobile broadband gateway specialist Stoke Inc. had been the sole supplier of LTE security gateways to the Japanese operator, a role it had held since the operator launched commercial 4G services in December 2010. (See NTT Docomo Launches LTE Service.)

But the contract with AlcaLu does not mean that Stoke has been ousted. A Stoke spokeswoman said that AlcaLu will not replace Stoke in Docomo's network. "The relationship with Docomo and Stoke is close, ongoing and expanding," she said, in an emailed response to Light Reading Mobile's questions.

AlcaLu, as you'd expect, had a different take on the situation. Having initially claimed (in an email response to questions) that its 7750 will be the only security gateway for any new LTE deployments at Docomo, a spokesperson toned down the claim to state that the vendor's routers will "be the primary LTE security gateway for Docomo."

Docomo told Light Reading Mobile that it did not comment on its network suppliers.

Why this matters
With the Docomo deal, AlcaLu has moved in on Stoke's turf. While it's a familiar tale for large equipment vendors to muscle in on smaller specialists, this deal also sparks questions about Stoke's growth potential and IPO prospects because Docomo has been a significant customer for the specialist vendor. (See Stoke IPO Is a 'Possibility', Stoke Stacks $17M More and Stokin' Up Wi-Fi's Operator Cred .)

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— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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