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Alcatel-Lucent, Under Fire, Turns To Mobile WiMax

Alcatel-Lucent says it has landed more WiMax contracts than any other vendor -- 15 commercial contracts and more than 70 pilots.

Under increasing pressure to show financial and product development improvement, Alcatel-Lucent unveiled a series of mobile products and announcements -- most centered on emerging Mobile WiMax technology -- at this week's Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 in Berlin.

The company seemed to be heralding its mobile intentions in advance of an important management meeting Oct. 30. The company, made up of Alcatel of France and Lucent Technologies of the United States, said it will review its future options in the wake of a series of disappointing financial reports.

At the Berlin show, Alcatel-Lucent said it has landed more WiMax contracts than any other vendor -- 15 commercial contracts and more than 70 pilots. At the same time, the company unveiled a new architecture it said will enable its mobile network customers to evolve their existing infrastructures to all-IP ecosystem. The architecture is called Mobile Evolution Transport Architecture.

The approach includes three new cell site aggregation "first mile" products that simplify the aggregation and backhaul of wireless broadband traffic. Mobile Evolution Transport Architecture's 9500 Microwave Packet Radio, 1850 Transport Service Switch, and 7705 Service Aggregation Router are designed to enable the move from existing microwave, TDM, and ATM infrastructures to all-IP.

In announcing its contract wins, Alcatel-Lucent said that in the past six months it has been converting its Mobile WiMax (IEEE 802.16e) trials into commercial trials at a rate of two a month. "We are now working on WiMax deployments with a range of fixed, mobile, and convergence-minded greenfield operators, in both established and high-growth markets worldwide," said Karim El Naggar, the company's chief of WiMax activities, in a statement.

While Alcatel-Lucent didn't list its WiMax contracts at its Berlin announcement, the firm has publicly discussed a few new contracts in recent days. At last week's WiMax World USA in Chicago it unveiled a deal with Japan's Kyocera in which the firms said they will work on an end-to-end WiMax system with Alcatel-Lucent providing its WiMax Universal platform and Kyocera the multimode mobile phones, PC cards, and USB devices.

Alcatel-Lucent also noted it has signed a contract with Brasil Telecom to deploy a commercial Mobile WiMax network in three large Brazilian cities.

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