Network equipment provider Lucent Canada Thursday announced a multi-year deal with Bell Canada to supply a combination voice and DSL platform for extension of the carrier’s

broadband service in Ontario and Quebec.

Neither party would disclose the financial terms of the deal, but Lucent Canada president and CEO Carol Stephenson said, “”The champagne bottles are breaking here. . . . This is a really significant deal for us, because it’s the first time we have broken into Bell Canada in the access business.””

Lucent will supply its AnyMedia Access System platform that delivers integrated voice and broadband service. The deal also encompasses the company’s Element Management System software and services like project management, engineering and maintenance through its Lucent Worldwide Services division.

“”The reason why we bought Lucent technology in the first place is because Nortel decided in May 2001 to discontinue its access node platform for voice,”” said Bell’s associate director for new technology development, Louis Boire. “”We were looking for a replacement of that technology.””

The equipment will allow Bell to extend its DSL customer base in major cities like Toronto and Montreal, but also “”Tier B”” cities like Windsor, Ont. The trial city chosen for the project was Ste. Rose, Que., which was put in service in May 2002. Bell’s DSL coverage in Ontario and Quebec is now approximately 75 per cent.

The deal is certainly a leg up for Lucent, said Stephenson, who is also a veteran of Bell and has served as president and CEO of the Stentor Resource Centre Inc., the product and service development arm of the Stentor Alliance. Lucent has recently experienced slumping sales and layoffs in what is a decimated telco industry.

“”Lucent has had as bad a time, if not worse, than Nortel over the last couple of years. It’s certainly a good piece of news, particularly in this marketplace,”” commented telecommunications analyst Mark Quigley, with Ottawa-based Yankee Group in Canada.

He added that Bell has had “”arguably the best success of all North American ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier) in terms of how many (DSL) subscribers they have as a percentage of their customer base. It very much represents a marquee customer from that point of view.””

Stephenson said Lucent may have an opportunity to sell its solution to Bell subsidiaries and be in the running for other equipment deals. “”The next time Bell’s making a next generation decision — whether it’s optical (equipment) or whatever — we’re at the table,”” she said.

The flexibility of combined voice and data is suited to expansion into new customer regions, said Stephenson. “”It’s hard to forecast exactly your take rate on DSL and POTS (plain old telephone service) when you’re into a geographic area, so it gives them a lot of flexibility too in terms of customer demands.””

Boire added that the Lucent platform will allow Bell to provide additional DSL services down the road, which may include faster transfer speeds, through the VDSL protocol, and features like online gaming.

Bell Canada also announced Thursday that it has added speech recognition technology — dubbed “”Emily”” — to its 310-Bell customer service line.


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