The formation of Alcatel-Lucent in 2006 created the world’s first truly
global communications solutions provider, with the most complete end-to-end
portfolio of solutions and services in the industry. Alcatel-Lucent transcends
national borders, with an extensive, well-balanced global presence in terms of
resources and revenues, and one of the largest and most innovative R&D
Alcatel-Lucent has been at the forefront of telecommunications since the
birth of the industry in the late 19th century. The company’s roots span two
continents and encompass two early pioneering companies — La Compagnie Générale
d'Electricité (CGE) and the Western Electric Manufacturing Company.
Western Electric began in 1869 when Elisha Gray and Enos N. Barton started a
small manufacturing firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. By 1880, the company had
relocated to Chicago, Illinois, and become the largest electrical manufacturing
company in the U.S. Western Electric was noted for its production of a variety
of electrical equipment, including the world's first commercial typewriters,
telegraph equipment and Thomas A. Edison's electric pen. In 1881 the American
Bell Telephone Company — founded by Alexander Graham Bell and forerunner of
American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) — purchased a controlling
interest in Western Electric and made it the exclusive developer and
manufacturer of equipment for the Bell telephone companies.
La Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (CGE) was formed in 1898 by French
engineer Pierre Azaria to compete against AEG, Siemens and General Electric.
Based in Alsace region of France, CGE was an industrial conglomerate involved
in various activities such as electricity, transportation, electronics and
telecommunications. CGE would become a leader in digital communications and
would also be known for producing the “TGV” (train à grande vitesse) high speed
trains in France.
In 1925, Bell Telephone Laboratories was created from the consolidation of
the Western Electric Research Laboratories, formed in 1907, and part of the
Engineering Department of AT&T. Bell Labs would go on to generate some of
the most significant scientific and technological discoveries of the 20th
century, including the transistor, the laser, the solar cell battery, the
digital signal processor chip and the cellular concept of mobile telephone
service. Bell Labs researchers would also garner 7 Nobel Prizes.
Also in 1925, Western Electric sold its International Western Electric
Company subsidiary to ITT Corporation. CGE strengthened its leadership in
digital communications in the mid-1980s when it bought the telecommunications
part of ITT and changed the group’s name to Alcatel Alsthom.
The mid-1980s marked significant changes for both companies. In 1983,
Alcatel Alsthom became one of the first foreign companies to establish itself
in China, understanding the huge potential of the Asia Pacific market.
Effective January 1, 1984, AT&T agreed to divest its local Bell telephone
companies. As part of this divestiture, a new unit named AT&T
Technologies (later to become Lucent Technologies), assumed Western Electric's
The 1990s were a time of realignment and refocusing on telecommunications.
AT&T launched Lucent Technologies in April 1996 with an initial public
offering. The spinoff was completed in September 1996 when AT&T distributed
its shares of Lucent to AT&T shareowners. In 1998 Alcatel Alsthom decided
to concentrate on the telecommunications industry, spinning off its Alsthom
activities and changing the company’s name to Alcatel.
Alcatel made significant acquisitions in North America at the end of the
1990s and in the early 2000s. Acquisitions included: DSC in 1998; Newbridge and
Genesys in 2000; Astral Point Communications in 2002; and Spatial
Communications in 2005.
In 2002 Alcatel took control of its flagship subsidiary Alcatel Shanghai
Bell (ASB), with the Chinese government owning the rest of this enterprise.
This structure allowed Alcatel to uniquely position itself in a Chinese market
experiencing rapid growth.
In 2006, facing an industry with intense competition and where operators
were consolidating, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies announced plans to
At the same time, Alcatel announced a deal to increase its shareholding and
transfer its satellite subsidiaries, its railway signaling business and its
critical security systems domains to Thales, a key player in the French defense
On November 30, 2006, the merger between Alcatel and Lucent was completed,
creating the world’s first truly global communications solutions provider.
At the start of the 21st century, the landscape of the networks began to
change radically. Once, engineers defined services for users. Today, the users
invent the services. They are the writers, the editors, the photographers, the
filmmakers – and the developers. They are testing the limits of imagination and
possibility. It is their ideas that drive the network to the edge of
It is Alcatel-Lucent’s strategy to spark the transformation of their
industry and remain at the forefront of the ever-evolving communications
market. To that end Alcatel-Lucent entered into several joint ventures and made
strategic acquisitions in key technologies.
The company acquired Nortel's UMTS radio access business to strengthen its
leadership position in this technology at the end of 2006. During 2007 the
company continued its focus on wireline technology, software and services
expertise with acquisitions of Canadian metro WDM networking supplier Tropic
Networks, Inc.; enterprise services gateway products developer NetDevices; IPTV
software company Tamblin; and the telecommunications consulting practice
Thompson Advisory Group, Inc. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent acquired Motive,
Inc., a leading provider of service management software for broadband and
mobile data services in 2008.
In 2009, in keeping with the company’s Application Enablement strategy and
our vision of the High Leverage Network™ architecture that supports it,
Alcatel-Lucent acquired leading Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider
Velocix, followed by the 2010 acquisitions of leading Web 2.0 API repository
ProgrammableWeb and OpenPlug, a cross-platform mobile software development tool