Chicago -- Lucent Technologies escalated its cable strategy
with a bang last week, announcing an alliance with Motorola Inc. to offer an end-to-end
Internet-protocol telephony/data solution for cable operators.
The nonexclusive development and marketing alliance also
furthers the agenda of Motorola, which deployed circuit-switched telephony equipment with
Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd. in Australia to make IP the multimedia platform for all of
its future businesses.
The deal basically integrates Motorola's "Cable
Router" cable-modem-termination system, plus its "PhoneLink"
multimedia-terminal adapter -- the customer-premises equipment combining a cable modem
with the interface for connecting a telephone to the IP network -- with Lucent's
"PathStar" access server, the digital switch providing IP switching, call
processing and connectivity to the public switched telephone network.
"Our systems work together [from] day one," said
Dick Day, vice president and general manager of multimedia markets for Motorola. "The
things we do in the future depend on the MSOs and how well we sell it."
Motorola's cable-modem gear is being offered as part of
Lucent's new portfolio of cable IP-telephony equipment and solutions, "CableConnect
CableConnect also encompasses Lucent's "7R/E Packet
Solutions," which provides quality-of-service features like those on traditional
circuit-switched networks; billing, customer-care and order-management software from
Lucent's Kenan Systems Corp. unit; and "NetCare," a suite of network services
such as network planning, implementation and integration, operation and support.
The companies said at a National Show news conference here
that trials with unspecified cable operators would start next month, with general product
availability slated for the first quarter of next year.
Motorola, which already has significant ventures with Cisco
Systems Inc. in wireless telecommunications, indicated that it considered but dropped the
idea of also working with Cisco (its rival in the cable-modem market) on cable telephony.
Motorola said it has now deployed 750,000 cable modems --
about 80 percent in North America -- and 250,000 circuit-switched cable-telephony units,
virtually all for international markets.
"Lucent not being in the headend and customer-premises
device [sector] was a nice match," Motorola's Multimedia Group senior vice president
Bruce Stone said.
Other vendors appeared unconcerned about a new giant rival
competing for cable-telephony networks.
Arris Interactive LLC noted that alliances with Nortel
Networks and Antec Corp. gave it access to total-solution components, such as hybrid
fiber-coaxial cable manufacturing, which Motorola and Lucent do not have.
Arris is also a key telephony vendor for AT&T Broadband
& Internet Services' circuit-switched deployment -- a strong platform for pitching its
"I think the Motorola-Lucent thing is a validation of
the strategy we've been pursuing for four years," Arris chief marketing officer Jim
Lakin said. "Lucent dropped out of the cable business about two years ago. We
Mark Komanecky, vice president of marketing for Broadband
Access Systems Inc. and a former longtime Lucent engineer, said BAS believed operators
would be as receptive to the start-up company's newly designed "Cuda 12000"
broadband-voice and data-access system as to the newly packaged, existing technologies
proffered by Motorola and Lucent.
BAS is moving aggressively toward that opportunity, working
with Hewlett-Packard Co. on a comprehensive test infrastructure to prepare the Cuda 12000
for standards testing at Cable Television Laboratories Inc.
The company plans to put its CMTS through dry-run testing
at CableLabs before the next wave of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification
testing. Depending on results, it will seek DOCSIS 1.0 qualification in that wave or the
"Everyone is looking for alternatives to the existing
set of vendors," Komanecky said. "IP telephony has some challenges -- making it
work well is not easy. We think we have the platform that can do it."