Financial terms of the Lycos deal were not disclosed. Lycos executives said they have initial plans to use 20 Alteon switches, with a second installation involving 30 switches in the works for the next quarter.
Alteon is a maker of network switches that can direct and manage traffic to Internet server farms that host Web sites, a hot niche in the networking industry. Others in the market include Foundry Networks, Cisco Systems and F5 Networks, among others.
Though contracts for large networks based on optical systems dwarf those of so-called Web switches, the technology has become a significant component to help speed Web data to Net users. The switching devices are generally used to direct traffic at Web hosting facilities or across the Web servers of a corporation.
Alteon was purchased by Nortel last week for nearly $8 billion in stock.
Sources close to the companies involved say Lycos is replacing switches it has used from ArrowPoint Communications, now part of Cisco Systems, for similar technology provided by Alteon. But Lycos executives said competitive technologies remain in its network, though they may look to replace those next quarter, based on the performance of Alteon.
"This is a very significant change for us," said Ron Rainville, director of technology for Lycos.
ArrowPoint signed a deal with Lycos in April. Afterward, ArrowPoint was acquired by Cisco, but a spokeswoman there said "Lycos is still using the ArrowPoint product. They have the product deployed in their network."
Alteon's switches range in price from $15,000 to $50,000, according to a company spokesman.
Lycos executives said they considered three competitors in the Web switch market before choosing Alteon for the Lycos network of Web sites.