Alcatel Launches Micro MSPP

Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) today unveiled a reduced version of its 1642 Edge Multiplexer (EM) multiservice provisioning platform for service providers and enterprise users, dubbing the new product 1642 EM Compact (EMC). (See Alcatel Unveils Micro MSPP.)

The product is a single-unit box designed to aggregate a mix of TDM and Ethernet traffic across a metro-area ring. Stefano Schiavoni, VP of product strategy at the vendor's optical products business, wouldn't give a price for the 1642 EMC, but he confirmed it was in the single-digit thousands of dollars range.

The product is commercially available, and Alcatel already has a customer in the form of Lao Telecommunications, which is using the product as part of an upgrade of its optical network (see Alcatel Wins Lao Telecom Deal).

So what's Alcatel doing launching yet another micro MSPP into an already crowded market that counts more than two dozen different products? (See Insider Surveys Micro MSPPs and Micro MSPPs Are Big.)

Schiavoni says the key to this product is that it's "more integrated than our existing product, and it's very efficient in terms of cost. This is targeted at the very cheap end of the market." The box has the capacity for 14 E1 lines and has an expansion slot for either 32 additional E1 lines or 8 Ethernet connections.

The so-called micro-MSPP market is crowded with heavyweights including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). (See Micro MSPPs Are Big, The Micro MSPP Flight Plan, and Survey Explores Micro MSPP Market.)

Schiavoni says Alcatel has focused on provisioning and management. "Carriers are looking for very flexible boxes they can add to their SDH networks that allow easy service provisioning, and a box that requires little or no configuration," he says. He adds that currently there is only an SDH product for the Europe and Asia/Pacific markets, but that "we could develop a Sonet version from the same platform if there was a demand from the market."

Heavy Reading chief analyst Scott Clavenna says the claims for ease of integration will help the new product stand out in a crowded sector. "The market is definitely crowded -- our recent report showed that. However, it's certainly worth launching a new product because one of the key issues with micro MSPPs is interoperability and easy configuration."

Clavenna says it makes even more sense for Alcatel to do this, as carriers will "likely want the same vendor's micro and macro MSPP in their metro access network to make deployments easy. [The new product] provides Alcatel a means of addressing its huge installed base of SDH MSPPs before someone else does. It's also a nice way to add Ethernet access capabilities to networks that have older SDH gear that doesn't directly support Ethernet interfaces."

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

The report, Micro MSPPs: Carrier Deployment Plans, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Light Reading Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.lightreading.com/insider.

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