Lucent Technologies unveiled new router technology on Tuesday in an attempt to challenge Cisco's dominance of the market.
The telecoms equipment supplier threw down the gauntlet just 24 hours after another Cisco wannabe, Nortel, issued its own masterplan for trying to dethrone the internetworking leader.
But Cisco professed itself unimpressed with the challenges of its rivals. In an analysts' conference call on Tuesday, executives said they believed competition would come from cash rich start-ups that would bring new technologies to market at prices that larger organisations could not offer.
Lucent is developing a high capacity optical router, however, that can divert streams of information across carrier backbones at the speed of light.
The Wavestar Lambda Router is based on Bell Labs' patent pending technology and is so called because it routes wavelengths of light or lambdas that can direct Internet traffic to multiple locations in a network without first converting the information into an electronic format.
Mukesh Chatter, Lucent's vice president of advanced IP core technologies, claimed this would save service providers up to 25 per cent in operational costs and enable them to direct network traffic up to 16 times faster than by using electrical switches.
Other advantages of incorporating optical technology into the core of the router included making networks easier to manage, he attested.
"Optical technology allows us to offer a more integrated solution, which results in lower cost per bit. This is a major innovation in the routing space," he said.
The new router is built with 256 tiny mirrors that are able to redirect an equivalent number of lightwaves across a network backbone. It could also be used to provide users with instant Internet access and high speed data and video services in future, Chatter added.
The router is based on a modular, large scale optical switching fabric that can take in any voice, data or video signal. Each of the initial 256 channels will support wavelengths at SONET/SDH or OC/STM speeds of up to 40 Gbits per second.
Several other companies including Monterey Networks, Sycamore Networks and Tellium, have also been working on optical switching equipment.
But on Monday, communications equipment maker, Nortel Networks, said it planned to invest $400 million globally to triple its capacity so it can produce the highest speed optical transport systems.
Nortel also slashed its enterprise router prices as much as 50 per cent more than its biggest competitor.
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