Most of the technology announcements revolved around incremental improvements to products or new partnerships. Examples of these came in ROADMs, IMS, and IPTV technologies. (See ROADMs Roll On, IMS: Pulling the Pieces Together, Ericsson, Broadsoft Snack on Danish, and Lucent Sees IPTV Opening.)
Service providers, meanwhile, look to be testing the water for next-generation broadband and convergence technologies. (See US WiMax Looks to 2006, Telecom Exec: VOIP Is a Pain, Source: Sonus Has BellSouth Deal, and AT&T Adopts Microsoft's SDP.)
Big deals? There was one merger announcement -- worth a grand total of $20 million! (See Ditech's Itsy Bitsy Jasomi Deal.)
But there was plenty of talk, some of it cheap, some of it not. Below are some outtakes from editors’ notebooks:
Ma says ZTE is in “a lot of discussions." ZTE won't say who these companies are, but the most likely strategic partner on broadband access is Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), because it doesn’t have broadband access products of its own. On the wireless front, the most likely strategic partner is Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) if it’s focused on the CDMA market, according to Light Reading’s sister publication, Unstrung.
In addition to pursuing partnerships, ZTE is expanding its own North American presence by targeting ILECs directly with CPE products such as home gateways -- products where ILECs are less concerned about having a long-standing relationship with a supplier. “We are already responding to some RFIs for these products,” Ma says.
ZTE expansion means it will hire more employees in North America. This will happen in earnest next year, according to Ma. ZTE currently has about 70 to 80 on staff in the U.S. and expects this to rise to 100 by year’s end. ZTE also expects to expand its logistics network (warehouses and so on) so that it can support increasing sales.
Ye Wei Min, a ZTE vice president, points out that ZTE already has three R&D centers in the U.S. One is in Dallas, working on next-generation network technologies in general and IMS in particular. Another is in San Diego, developing WiMax technology. The third is in New Jersey, developing IP CPE. In all cases, the technology is being developed in the U.S., but the products themselves will be made in China.
Sycamore officials issued a “no comment.” Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) issued its own "non oraculum." Persistent inquiries with reliable sources yielded nothing more than wild laughter.
”That’s a stupid idea,” said one source.
Hey, we don’t make up the rumors -- we just recklessly spread them!
One source did note that Sycamore might indeed be sprucing itself up for a garage sale. The company has been persistently whittling away at its workforce. On April 29, for example, the company announced it was laying off 20 employees, representing 6 percent of its staff. But it also might be a tricky time to acquire the company. Sycamore filed with the SEC on Monday, saying it would delay its 10-Q filing this quarter due to an audit involving its treatment of stock options in 2000 and 2001.
Wall Street has shrugged its shoulders. Sycamore stock has barely budged for a week.
Now, keep in mind, this tip did come from the investment banking community, which loves to talk about potential business -- especially deals that never happen. Also keep in mind that this type of “pin the value on the company” activity goes on all the time, and it doesn’t even mean that merger talks have commenced.
Yet at least one person thinks to story may have legs. “Hey, that’s more of a cultural match than Lucent,” said an executive at Light Reading’s Supercomm party, drink in hand.
Such talk follows a long line of mega-mergers between Alcatel, Lucent, Nortel, and whomever (see M&A Cheat Sheet).
But don’t hold your breath.
"Customers are coming up to us with specific projects with specific budgets allocated," says Umesh Kukreja, director of product marketing for Atrica Inc.
Of course, that still might not mean anything. "I heard people say that last year, too," says another analyst.
— The Staff, Light Reading