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Lucent touts new Net strategy

The company launches an effort to offer telecommunications carriers the technology they need to provide Internet-based services to businesses.

Lucent Technologies is launching an effort Monday to offer telecommunications carriers the technology they need to provide Internet-based services to businesses, the company says.

Lucent will announce a new high-speed networking device that lets carriers and service providers offer businesses new Net-based services, such as improved security with their high-speed Net access.

The company also will announce a product plan that will allow service providers to easily update all their older networking equipment to support new Net-based services that can generate more revenue, Lucent executives said.

Other players in the market include Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and start-ups such as Cosine Communications. Lucent, which has struggled financially in the past year, didn't have a plan for Internet-based equipment until now, analysts said.

RHK analyst Tracey Vanik said Lucent last year was still hawking older networking equipment that was based on ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) technology, which sends voice and data signals over networks at high speeds.

"A year ago, Lucent's strategy was that ATM was the most important way to build and architect a network, but what they've done is recognize the importance of Internet Protocol (IP)," Vanik said.

Lucent's IP strategy revolves around technology acquired from its $1.3 billion purchase last year of start-up Spring Tide Networks and its $20 billion acquisition of Ascend Communications in 1999, among others.

Lucent on Monday will announce the Spring Tide 7000 switch--high-speed networking equipment that allows service providers to offer businesses Net-based services, such as VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). VPNs allow employees in a business to get a secure but inexpensive high-speed connections to their corporate networks over the Internet.

Another new Net service is the ability for businesses to manage how their network is used, such as blocking employees' access to Web sites that are not related to work, Lucent executives said.

Lucent also will announce plans to support a new networking protocol--called MPLS--across its product family. The networking protocol will allow the existing technology in carriers' networks to support IP, Vanik said.