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The equipment is left over from a recently completed multibillion-dollar contract with Saudi Arabia to lay down a telecommunication infrastructure for the desert kingdom and carries a list price of about $90m (£61m), said Michelle Davidson, a Lucent spokeswoman.
In the first phase of the auction, which started on 27 August and ends on 12 September, equipment for Global System for Mobile Communications wireless communications networks and for Class 5 switches for local telephone offices is up for grabs. Data networking equipment, installation materials and some hardware for central offices are among items slated for auction in the next phase, beginning on 17 September. Multiplexers and digital cross connects for handling multiple phone lines will be part of the third phase of the auction, which begins on 1 October.
Davidson said Lucent was always on the lookout for ways to reduce inventory levels and had affected a $1bn drop in inventory between the second and third quarters.
Due to big carriers buying less new equipment, however, and failures of smaller carriers and dotcom companies flooding auctions with hardly used equipment at rock bottom prices, telecommunication equipment makers have been hard pressed to reduce their inventories of older stock.
Nevertheless, one analyst said progress was being made. "I think they're substantially working through it this year," said Lee Doyle, vice-president of network equipment analysis at IDC. He attributed the over-supply of today to the over-demand of the past few years. "They were trying to provide equipment in a market that was doubling every year," Doyle said.
Cisco routers have been sold on the eBay auction site by failed dotcoms for peanuts - and sometimes still in the factory bubble wrap - but the kind of equipment Lucent is auctioning is not as generic, Doyle warned.
"Routers are more of a commodity ... With a Cisco router, if you have the model number, you know what you're getting," Doyle said. Lucent's equipment is specialised, and is not necessarily interoperable with other carrier equipment. "I wouldn't buy Dense Wave Division Multiplexing gear on eBay," he said.
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