Alcatel Wins Big

SBC Communications (NYSE: SBC  ) is putting its money where its mouth is. The regional telecom has started picking vendors for its much-ballyhooed, multibillion-dollar rollout of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks. The big winner is. Alcatel (NYSE: ALA  ) .

In fact, "big winner" is probably a bit of an understatement. Paris-based Alcatel confirmed yesterday that it captured the top spot as supplier for SBC's five-year network expansion plan. Alcatel gets a whopping $1.7 billion worth of the total spend.

The deal gives Alcatel recurring revenue over five years and solidifies its position in the broadband access network market. Alcatel, already the top player in the market for digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, is expanding its leading position into FTTP. Alcatel investors should be thrilled by the SBC deal.

By contrast, investors in Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB  ) and Advanced Fibre Communications (Nasdaq: AFCI  ) should be very worried. It's no secret that Baby Bell giant Verizon is looking for a new supplier for its FTTP equipment. AFC, which is slated to merge with Tellabs, hasn't been delivering on its promises, which could leave Alcatel to take the Verizon contract.

It looks like Juniper (Nasdaq: JNPR  ) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) got locked out of the bonanza. Alcatel will be supplying its own shiny new routers as part of the SBC deal. Lucent (NYSE: LU  ) , which was counting on a big order, also missed out.

The deal leaves Alcatel in a great competitive position that could translate into more deals. Consider this: BellSouth and Bell Canada will soon be picking vendors for their own mega-FTTP rollouts. Alcatel will no doubt be on their list of candidates. Even better, you can buy Alcatel for just one times its forecast 2005 sales. Ahead of more announcements, Alcatel looks awfully tempting.

Fool contributorBen McClure hails from the Great White North. Ben doesn't own any shares mentioned here.


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