• Share


Lucent will unveil a new product this week aimed at migrating low-teledensity networks found in rural telcos and developing nations to packet-based traffic, replacing small Class 5 switches with a single 23-inch shelf.

More on this Topic

Industry News


Briefing Room

Lucent is touting its new iGen compact switch, which will not be available until January, as a “switch on a pack.” The vendor claims the product can serve 32 to 10,000 subscribers at 10% of the operating costs of a traditional small Class 5 and deliver next-generation services using voice over IP.

How the device should be classified, however, depends on whom you ask.

“It's not a [time division multiplexing] switch. It's truly a next-generation product,” said Ken Arndt, vice president of marketing for convergence solutions at Lucent. “You could call this a very compact softswitch, but we're trying to stay away from that nomenclature.We're being very careful in how we craft the story.”

Some analysts see the story differently. “This is not what I'd describe as a true next-generation product,” said Tom Valovic, director of IDC's IP telephony program, who added that he considers the iGen to be TDM-based. “It has IP, SIP and GR-303 interfaces, but those are line cards or circuit packs.”

The iGen will compete with gear from softswitch start-ups like Taqua, as well as Nortel Networks' CS2000 Compact, which already has been deployed internationally and in the U.S. cable market but has not made much progress with the 1200 or so rural telcos in the U.S. In the small Class 5 replacement game, Nortel may be the team to beat. Sprint, the largest carrier to commit to Class 5 replacement, is using Nortel gear (see story on page 10).

“Nortel has incumbency,” said Kevin Mitchell, an analyst for Infonetics Research. “They own most of the small Class 5 switch accounts, but they're certainly vulnerable.”

Case in point: The first U.S. customer to test Lucent's iGen is Valley Telecom, a rural carrier cooperative in Arizona that traditionally was a Nortel customer. Among the reasons Judy Bruns, Valley's CEO, said she started shopping the competition was because she felt abandoned by her main supplier.

“Over the last couple years, we've been very surprised and a little disappointed in the customer support [Nortel] is giving us,” Bruns said. “A lot of what's leaning us toward Lucent is the support we're going to get from D-Tel [one of Lucent's regional business partners].”

Nortel claims to be “absolutely committed” to packetizing rural telephony, citing recent software upgrades for its DMS-10 switch and a roadmap for rural packet migration launched last fall.

But commitment to the space is something Nortel's competitor will have to prove as well. Last October, Lucent CEO Pat Russo vowed to curtail softswitch development because “our customers are not going to undertake a massive replacement of Class 4s and Class 5s with softswitches in the near term,” she said. That sentiment may not be wholly inconsistent with the release of iGen (if it's not a softswitch), but the overall picture analysts get is a fuzzy one.

“Lucent's approach to next-gen telephony has been all over the map,” said Mitchell. “They just need to clarify what they want to do and stay on that path for more than a couple months without veering off.”

Want to use this article? Click here for options!
© 2011 Penton Media Inc.

Learning Library

White Papers

The Expertise to Protect You from Botnet and DDoS Attacks

As a wide-open environment, the Internet has allowed a large criminal element to thrive. For evidence, look no further than the escalating growth of botnets and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that have been publicized in recent news. Download this paper to learn how emerging botnet and DDoS threats are identified, analyzed and mitigated to help protect organizations like yours from their impact.

More Whitepapers

Featured Content

Smart Guide: Ethernet Mobile Backhaul Goes Mainstream

The mobile data explosion is impacting mobile operators both large and small. And that is putting a huge strain not just on radio networks but mobile backhaul networks as well. Luckily, more affordable and flexible Ethernet-based backhaul is coming to the rescue.
Download this Smart Guide to learn how to take advantage of the situation.

The Latest


From the Blog


Join the Discussion


Get more out of Connected Planet by visiting our related resources below:

Connected Planet highlights the next generation of service providers, as well as how their customers use services in new ways.

Subscribe Now

Back to Top