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Lucent partners with Riverstone

Lucent hopes Riverstone's Ethernet switches and routers will help it round out its product lineup.

Lucent Technologies said Thursday that it will partner with Ethernet equipment maker Riverstone Networks to round out its product lineup.

Lucent plans to use Riverstone's Ethernet switches and routers to help its new and existing carrier customers migrate from a circuit-based infrastructure to one that uses packet technology.

Lucent is one of the largest providers of telecommunications gear to carriers in North America. But as customers move away from their traditional architectures in favor of new Voice over Internet Protocol technology, the company has been left with several holes to fill in its product portfolio.

Lucent already offers some key pieces. For example, it has a broadband aggregation and subscriber management product called the Stinger that is used to manage and provide services over DSL, or digital subscriber line, networks. It also has some of its own optical Ethernet switches.

But when it comes to straight IP and Ethernet technology, Lucent is sorely lacking. In the past, the company has tried to move into this market through a series of acquisitions. It also tried developing some of its own gear. But in 2001 and 2002, Lucent discontinued development of several products, including its MSC 25000 asynchronous transfer mode switch and the TMX 880 multiprotocol label switching core switch.

Instead, the company has focused on finding strategic partners to fill product gaps.

In 2003, it signed a partnership agreement with Juniper Networks. As part of that deal, Lucent resells Juniper's core IP routers. The two companies also are integrating and co-developing technology.

Under the terms of Thursday's agreement, Lucent plans to resell Riverstone's Ethernet switches and routers to carriers that will use them in their metropolitan-area networks to connect multiple corporate networks. Over these Ethernet connections, companies can mix their voice and data traffic using a more flexible IP network. For example, customers can specify how much bandwidth they want within the range of 10 megabits per second and 1 gigabit per second.

Because the hardware is cheaper and the equipment is easier to manage, "metro Ethernet" is expected to save carriers money. As a result, service providers throughout the world are expected to invest $25 billion in metro Ethernet equipment between 2003 and 2007, according to Infonetics Research.