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Lucent plans network in Ireland

Lucent signs a deal worth $108 million with Ocean to provide a nationwide network for businesses and residential consumers in Ireland.

Telecommunications equipment maker Lucent Technologies today signed a $108 million deal with Ocean, the communications unit of the Electricity Supply Board of Ireland, and British Telecom to provide a nationwide network for businesses and residential consumers in Ireland.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lucent will deploy a nationwide network based on a high-speed data and optical transmission solution that will provide Ocean's customers data-intensive and voice applications. The network will link Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford.

Lucent Technologies said it is currently expanding its operations in Ireland, with the addition of 550 new jobs over the next four years. As part of an $18 million investment program, the new jobs will be divided between Lucent's manufacturing facility in Bray, its software development center in Dublin, and new final hardware assembly, shared financial services, and customer support operations, also in Dublin.

Ocean was established in June 1998 to provide communications services for Irish businesses and consumer markets. With the Irish telecommunications market fully deregulated in December 1998, the five-year agreement will allow Ocean to provide a comprehensive, competitive range of data and voice services.

Ocean will offer business customers a full range of services such as leased lines, ATM, business voice, and in early 1999, managed IP services. Under the agreement with Lucent, the American company will be Ocean's primary solutions partner, serving as systems integrator on the project, working closely with Ocean to provide end-to-end project management support and implementation on network design and planning.

A team of 30 employees from Lucent has been working with Ocean since July 1998, providing technical support, new service definition, and marketing.

"This is a significant collaboration for Lucent," Eric van Amerongen, president and chief executive of Lucent's Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, said in a statement. "We're very pleased to be working with this very important new operator in Ireland, one of Europe's fastest growing economies."

Lucent will establish final assembly and testing of its data equipment at its existing manufacturing facility in Bray. The facility also will serve Lucent's customers throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

This deal comes on the heels of Lucent's global buying spree in which the firm purchased nearly a half-dozen small companies in less than a year. In July, Lucent acquired switch technology maker LanNet for $115 million in cash, SDX Business Systems for about $200 million in cash, and Australian telecom equipment maker JNA Telecommunications for $70 million in cash.

Shares of Lucent fell today in early morning trading, slipping 1.37 percent to 85.31. The stock has traded as high as 108.5 and as low as 36.19 during the past 52 weeks.