Alcatel-Lucent on Thursday rolled out a new wireless equipment portfolio that's designed to make it easier for wireless carriers to move from 2G and 3G networks to the speedier Long Term Evolution (LTE) platform.
The company is calling its rollout the "ultimate wireless packet core." With the move, Alcatel-Lucent is joining the ranks of companies trying to help carriers provide speedier broadband of both the wireless and wired flavors. Alcatel-Lucent primarily competes with Cisco, which recently bought Starent, and Juniper Networks, which is also targeting wireless carriers.
Lindsay Newell, vice president of marketing for Alcatel-Lucent's IP portfolio, said the company's latest products---the 7750 SR LTE packet gateway, Wireless Mobility Manager, 5620 Service Aware Manager and 5780 Dynamic Service Controller---are designed to appeal to 2G and 3G carriers that plan to eventually move to LTE. The pitch is that Alcatel-Lucent's gear will eliminate the need for incremental upgrades as carriers take a bunch of in between steps to reach an LTE network.
"Whether carriers are doing LTE this year or plan staggered path our next-gen platform has the runway," said Newell.
Here's the visual representation of what Alcatel-Lucent is adding to the lineup:
Alcatel-Lucent's gear will obviously have a short list of customers---wireless carriers---but it does have the LTE chops. Alcatel-Lucent has been selected for LTE trials by Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Simply put, Verizon Wireless' LTE trial claims are riding on Alcatel-Lucent gear. Overall, Alcatel-Lucent has more than 40 LTE trials underway across the globe.
For the wireless customer, the most interesting thing to note about Alcatel-Lucent's infrastructure announcement is this: The 5780 Dynamic Service Controller is the type of equipment that allows carriers to bring tiered wireless broadband pricing to the market. Wireless network intelligence on the backend means more revenue generation on the front end---also known as your bill. "The Dynamic Service Controller supports things like tiered pricing, new revenue models, usage based pricing and content and application partnerships," said Newell.
Today's networks are crude instruments that don't have the intelligence to slice up data usage. That's why you get an "unlimited plan" that's capped and a less expensive version for people that don't use wireless broadband much and nothing in between. Newell added that Alcatel-Lucent's gear is setting up for the day of converged networks where Verizon would be able to deliver content on any screen whether I was on FiOS at home or mobile broadband on the road.