European company Alcatel has set its sights on becoming one of the world's top three network vendors at the expense of Cisco, Lucent or Nortel.
Alcatel, which last month completed its $7.1bn acquisition of asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) Wan switch vendor Newbridge Networks, said it will focus on selling fibre optics, broadband access and so-called multi-service aggregation tools to the carrier and enterprise markets.
Pearse Flynn, president of Alcatel's carrier networking group, said: "We want to be one of the top three players globally in carrier and enterprise networking by displacing one of the existing leaders."
The acquisition of Newbridge has helped Alcatel plug the multi-service aggregation gap in its product range with switches that combine ATM and IP technologies, explained Krish Prabhu, Alcatel's chief operating officer.
Although Alcatel claims to be the leader in multi-protocol switching in Europe, Prabhu said the company has been overtaken by Lucent in the US market.
Alcatel also wants to be the world's third leading supplier of optical routing equipment - a market which Cisco and others are spending billions of dollars acquiring expertise.
Prabhu is not fazed. "Cisco has to prove itself in fibre optics," he said, adding that contrary to analysts' suggestions that Alcatel should specialise in one area of optical networking, the company is keen to continue with its broad product line. That encompasses fibre optics technology running at 10Gbps and 40Gbps, dense wavelength division multiplexing, fibre cross connect and Sonet technologies. "Few players have this breadth," he said.
Prabhu also criticised Cisco's multi-protocol strategy, claiming that the manufacturer is "confusing the market with its ambivalence towards IP and ATM".
Flynn, who recently joined Alcatel's carrier networking group where Newbridge has been absorbed, added that Alcatel does not see Cisco as a competitor in the carrier space. But he admitted that the enterprise space would be a hard nut for the company to crack.
Alcatel's strongest competitors in the US are Lucent and Nortel, which is particularly good at marketing. "But our objective is to market with fact and reality," said Flynn.
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