Lucent Technologies Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. have announced a joint marketing and product development partnership whereby Lucent will sell, service and support Juniper routers for wireline applications.

Lucent announced a similar arrangement with Cisco Systems Inc. a few months ago for the mobile wireless market. Lucent disclosed previously that it would line up partnerships to fill the IP/MPLS gap in its product portfolio following the cancellation of two key products obtained via acquisition.

Lucent and Juniper said they will deliver "unified solutions" designed to migrate service provider networks to IP infrastructures. These offerings will address core, data, broadband and metro optical wireline requirements, the companies said.

The combined products will target a market that will grow from US$8.5 billion in 2003 to $12.2 billion in 2005, according to Lucent and Juniper.

The joint offerings include:

- IP VPN (available now) -- based on existing products that support VPN services over an IP/MPLS core network. - Multiservice Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) Core (available Q1 2004) – designed to support ATM/frame relay services while adding IP services onto a converged IP/MPLS core. - IP Centrex (available now) -- enables service providers to deliver IP Centrex services to enterprises over a packet-based network. - Enhanced DSL (available now) – designed to enable service providers to address mass-market xDSL service rollout. - Optical Edge (under joint development) – an offering designed to expand the enterprise market for Ethernet services over existing service provider networks.

Lucent's Worldwide Services unit will provide network design, integration, deployment and maintenance services, the companies said.

Lucent is offering two sources for IP/MPLS – Cisco and Juniper – because Cisco competes directly with Lucent in wireline networks, specifically in ATM switching and metro/long-haul optical, according to Nikos Theodosopoulos, telecommunications equipment analyst at UBS Warburg in New York. Nonetheless, as recently as five days ago, top executives at Cisco were pressing Lucent to scotch the deal with Juniper and partner with Cisco for the wireline opportunity as well.

"We continue to believe Juniper is (a) likely partner although we cannot rule Cisco out completely," Theodosopoulos stated in an April 30 bulletin. An April 4 UBS Warburg bulletin stated that "Cisco is making a big executive push to turn this decision around in favor of Cisco."

Cisco was not immediately available for comment but the urgency of Cisco's reported proposal is understandable: Lucent is the leading supplier of ATM switches to the U.S. RBOCs, a wealthy customer base long coveted by Cisco that needs to migrate those ATM infrastructures to IP/MPLS.

Though Lucent is also a leading supplier of CDMA gear to wireless operators – the customer base for the Cisco/Lucent partnership -- service providers who offer both wireline and wireless services spend more on wireline gear.

Lucent was compelled to formulate a partnership strategy for IP/MPLS routers after its own offerings were discontinued due to a product line consolidation brought on by sagging financial results and massive layoffs. The two main casualties were Lucent's TMX 880 MPLS core switch and the SpringTide IP services switch, products obtained from the acquisitions of Nexabit Networks Inc. and SpringTide Networks Inc., respectively.

Startup Procket Networks Inc. was also rumored to be a candidate for Lucent's wireline IP/MPLS partnership.