Making the things that make communications work
A Lucent Technologies case study

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Page 5: R&D and innovation

Lucent Technologies 4 Image 5When the demerger took place, Bell Labs separated from AT&T to become the innovation engine for Lucent Technologies. Bell Labs was the birthplace of the transistor, the communications satellite, laser, solar cell, cellular telephony and stereo recording. Bell Labs focuses its research efforts on product developments related to Lucent Technologies’ business. The future of the data communication market promises to be exciting and fast-moving.

The concept of 'personalised mobility', i.e. when users can access all forms of data through a variety of fixed and mobile networks using a single terminal, is not so very distant. As technology develops, it is becoming increasingly likely that Bell Labs will be leading the way to make personal mobility a reality.

Bell Labs’ mission is to pioneer new technological developments and help Lucent bring that technology to the market-place. It involves going beyond invention to innovation. Invention is about developing new ideas, whereas innovation involves taking the ideas and doing something useful with them. Bell Labs takes a highly systematic approach to planning - the development of product and technology roadmaps which connect researchers with 'what's needed' to 'what's possible' through sales and marketing. Researchers have become part of the product team and are instrumental in producing and maintaining the product plan.

Research and development

Around 11% of Lucent’s revenues are invested in research and development. Investment in tomorrow’s communications technologies involves converting ideas into patents at a rapid rate (on average more than three every business day!) A patent is a sole right to use an innovation for a period of time. Patents help to protect Lucent’s investment in research and development.

Bell Labs searches for new ways to speed innovations into the market. Its scientists and engineers are constantly working to develop breakthrough technologies and examine how such technologies can be brought to the market quickly.

The new global Bell Labs research and development community is at the heart of Lucent’s creative efforts, bringing innovations and new technologies to all of the new business units within Lucent. As Bell Labs is integrated with Lucent’s businesses, it makes it possible to deliver innovations to customers in the market-place in record time.

Today, Bell Labs’ experts participate in all parts of Lucent Technologies’ business, from research and development, through to planning, production and marketing. This integration of research and development with each of Lucent’s businesses has helped Bell Labs to focus on the most important technologies. In one of the fastest growing and exciting market-places in the world, rapid time to market is often the difference between becoming a market leader or a market laggard. Recent innovations include:

  • Elemedia™ - this is a Lucent venture that is commercialising technology for the delivery of high-quality speech, music and video over the Internet. It is now used in the Netscape Navigator browser.
  • Truewave® - this is a special fibre which carries multiple colours of laser light in communication systems, thereby increasing the amount of information in data, sound and images that can be transmitted over networks.
  • Scalpel™ - four generations ahead of the current technology for making microchips, this invention will create the tiniest transistors and integrated circuits ever.

Innovations and breakthroughs require the ideas and energies of exceptional people. Bell Labs attracts some of the best scientific and technical minds in the world and Lucent is building its business around them. For example, in March 1998, Lucent demonstrated Terabit transmission - the world’s first long-distance transmission of a trillion bits of data every second. This could allow the entire world’s Internet traffic to be transmitted via a single strand of optical fibre - the Truewave®.

Lucent Technologies | Making the things that make communications work