Prabhu, 49, was most recently a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on communications and information technology. He also joins Tellabs' board of directors.
Prabhu has a long telecom resume spanning nearly 24 years. He joinedin 1991 as part of an acquisition and quickly rose through the ranks. He served as president of the broadband products unit at Alcatel Europe in 1995, until being promoted to CEO of Alcatel USA in 1997. In 1999, he was named chief operating officer of Alcatel Telecom. He joined Morgenthaler after leaving Alcatel in 2001.
Michael J. Birck, who founded Tellabs and has served as CEO for 27 years, will continue as chairman of the board.
"Krish Prabhu is the right leader to guide Tellabs forward, balancing a clear vision of the industry's future with the real-world ability to get the right things done," Birck said in a statement. "He brings the technical depth, international breadth, customer relationships and leadership experience that Tellabs needs to achieve and sustain profitable growth."
Birck announced last year plans to retire in April 2004. Three internal candidates had been considered for the top job, including Edward Kennedy, president of Tellabs North America. Like Prabhu, Kennedy had also worked at Alcatel. Kennedy took himselflast month when he resigned from the company.
Tellabs is one of the largest providers of digital cross-connects, which are products that aggregate traffic from telephone carriers' access networks. Its gear is used in most telephone networks in the United States and other countries.
Like other telecommunications equipment companies, such as Alcatel, Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks, Tellabs is trying to shift its focus away from traditional circuit-based products toward products supporting Internet Protocol and. In May of last year, the company acquired Vivace Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based start-up building IP/MPLS gear.