Symbio switches with Lucent

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By Fleur Doidge, CRN

A five-month old startup run by two ex-Lucent employees has partnered with their former employer to sell the Lucent range of voice-switching products in Australia and Asia.

Lucent has awarded Sydney-based telecommunications distributor and reseller Symbio Networks a place on its global Advantage Business Partner program, giving Symbio access to the network gear maker's products, training and support.

Symbio directors Andy Fung and Rene Sugo left Lucent in November, founding the reseller shortly thereafter.

Fung said Symbio considered engaging other businesses before settling on Lucent. “The telecommunications industry has been difficult lately. We were talking to a number of companies before we decided on Lucent,” he said.

“Lucent is the only one, we believe, that is going to be around ... simply because of their size and expertise, in the US at Bell Labs especially,” he said. Other deals were also in the offing for Symbio but details could not yet be released.

Patrick Duncan, director of business development for Lucent Asia-Pacific, said the company has 350 business partners globally and wants to reduce that number. However, in Australia a vacancy existed for a partner with switch expertise. “We want to go down to about 200 strategic partners worldwide,” Duncan said. “For the Asia-Pacific, we will have 80 – fewer than seven per country with which we deal.”

“We break our technology set down into data, optical, wireless and switch,” said Brett Webster, marketing director for Lucent in Australia. “Symbio was key for us because of their expertise, business model and focus.”

Symbio will get access to Lucent's entire range although the partnership would focus heavily on promoting the Excel EXS converged services platform and voice switching products, Duncan said.

“It's more than a distribution agreement, it also involves technical support and whole life-cycle services,” Fung said. “Also, we are developing new applications to run on Lucent's programmable platform.”

According to Symbio, telecommunications are increasingly based on an IP-packet-centric network. As a result, the company aims to ally with other businesses to better support voice and data networks comprised of open-protocol products from multiple vendors.

Symbio is focusing on marketing, deploying and supporting Excel EXS-based tandem and international gateway switching infrastructure and reselling Excel EXS applications developed by other Lucent partners, such as pre-paid calling cards. Symbio said the Excel EXS switch is the most widely deployed platform around the world with more than 7,000 systems in 30 countries.

Lucent has been haemorrhaging jobs and revenue for several years. The network gear maker employed 155,000 globally in 2000 but will clock in with fewer than 35,000 at the end of this year, after repeated rounds of redundancies.

In September, Lucent reported its ninth consecutive loss and rumours of approaching bankruptcy were rife.

In the 2001-02 financial year, Lucent earned $US12 billion in revenue - down from $US 21 billion in 2000-01 and lost $US6.9 billion, down from a loss of $US 19 billion for the previous year.

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