Lucent discontinues major switching product

Lucent Technologies has discontinued its large-scale MSC 25000 core ATM switch, which it introduced at the SuperComm trade show...

Lucent Technologies has discontinued its large-scale MSC 25000 core ATM switch, which it introduced at the SuperComm trade show in June.

The MSC 25000 had been widely hailed as a leading product in the next-generation ATM switching market. But the economic slowdown has led to a contraction in capital spending from carriers and service providers, many of whom have downgraded their network expansion plans and have thus curtailed planned investments in high-end telecommunications equipment.

Seen as an important part of Lucent's plan to retain leadership in the core ATM switching market for large carriers and service providers, the high-end MSC 25000 offered multi-service core and edge services for converged voice, video and data networks. Currently, Lucent is estimated to hold 75% to 80% of the ATM equipment market for service providers.

Lucent's decision came as a result of a product portfolio review undertaken as part of a restructuring plan the company announced in late August, said Michael Alva, a Lucent spokesman. The plan included a re-evaluation of which markets Lucent would invest in.

"We've had to re-set the priorities and make tough decisions to maximise the opportunities with our large service provider customers," Alva said. He added that Lucent had seen growing interest from customers wanting to expand their existing Lucent multi-service networks through a high-speed IP MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) core.

In light of Lucent's restructuring, some analysts said the move was to be expected.

"Given the amount of focus Lucent has to have going forward, it doesn't surprise me," said Maribel Dolinov, an analyst at Forrester Research. "In a way, it's unfortunate, because there is business in ATM, but they've obviously decided that they can satisfy that business with another platform. You can't have two platforms that do the same thing."

Indeed, Lucent is planning a new multi-service platform that will deliver high-speed IP MPLS capabilities sooner than would have been available on the MSC 25000, Alva said. He added that the product is expected later this year.

"The new platform will let current multi-service switch customers grow their networks and offer key revenue-producing services across an IP MPLS core," Alva added.

For current customers, the elimination of the MSC 25000 might not be disruptive to business, Dolinov said, because Lucent's support for the product had always been sluggish.

"Customers have been stranded on the ATM platforms from Lucent and Cisco for a long time, so it's really nothing new," she said. "Customers haven't seen any good software updates in a long time. Their platforms are out of gas, and it's been a real struggle for them."

The announcement was hailed as good news by some competitors, including Alcatel, Marconi, and Equipe Communications.

"We're building an ATM and MPLS switch, so we would have competed with the MSC 25000 on the ATM side of things," said Bob Sullebarger, Equipe's vice president of marketing. "This is really good news for us, because it's taking the major competitor out of the picture."

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