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Alcatel GGSN Acquisition Could Leave Cisco Hanging

Alcatel has added a GPRS gateway support node (GGSN) box to its wireless product offering through the acquisition of startup WaterCove Networks, a move that could eliminate Cisco from future Alcatel-enabled wireless networks.

Alcatel is a long-time provider of equipment for the wireless sector. However, despite offering most of the GPRS network components, the company turned to Cisco to provide GGSN capabilities to its customers. But, with the amount of data revenue on the rise and carriers calling for higher quality-of-service (QoS) capabilities, Alcatel saw an opportunity to bring the GGSN technology in house, said Roland Theis, deputy vice president of partnerships at Alcatel.

Alcatel found an answer to its requests in WaterCove Networks, which has been developing a GGSN box that provides advanced traffic management and policing schemes that operators can tap into when charging for services. "Now we have an end-to-end solution," Theis said.

In WaterCove, Alcatel also gets a platform that it has experience working with. In July of 2003, Alcatel signed an OEM agreement with Chelmsford, Mass.-based WaterCove. At the time, Alcatel announced its intention to integrate WaterCove's GGSN with other network components. According to Theis, the WaterCove product has been integrated with Alcatel's other wireless networking products. This combined solution is now in field trials, Theis added.

The big question that remains is what impact will today's acquisition have on the Alcatel/Cisco relationship? Alcatel is answering this question by saying that the WaterCove solution will not replace the Cisco GGSN in current network architecture. On the contrary, Theis said the WaterCove box will be co-located with existing Cisco GGSN products.

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