European ATM vendor teams with Timeplex

Officials at Timeplex Federal Systems Inc. announced this month that their company will serve as the "marketing and sales arm" for Alcatel Data Networks, a business unit of the European telecommunications equipment giant that previously has eschewed the federal market.

Timeplex Federal president Warren Grasty said the two firms view the agreement as a "win-win" deal that will offer Alcatel products to federal users for the first time while rounding out Timeplex Federal's product line with Alcatel's 1100 HS family of Asynchronous Transfer Mode and frame-relay switches.

"Alcatel had a nice product that fit into our line, and they didn't want to make the investment in putting in a [federal sales] channel like we have," Grasty said, "so there's synergy both ways."

Telecom market analyst John Okay, senior vice president for telecommunications and special studies at Federal Sources Inc., said he thinks both companies will benefit from the agreement. He said Timeplex Federal, which traditionally specialized in edge devices that provide access to ATM and frame-relay networks, now will be able to address its customers' broader telecom requirements, including those that combine voice and data on the same platform.

"More and more agencies are looking to multiservice broadband solutions," said Okay, who retired late last year from his previous job as deputy commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service. "With this agreement, Timeplex Federal is increasing its capabilities in that arena. It will help them focus on delivering solutions rather than just selling boxes."

Jean-Luc Abaziou, president and chief operating officer of Alcatel, Ashburn, Va., said the partnership will allow his company to avoid the costly undertaking of building a new organization to address the federal market. He said such an endeavor could take three to six months to complete.

"This is a way to reach that market faster," Abaziou said. "I believe the federal market is booming in the data area, and it is time for us to play a role in that.

Grasty said the arrangement extends beyond typical reseller agreements by giving Timeplex Federal exclusive rights to sell the Alcatel switches to the government and by allowing Timeplex Federal to recommend product development ideas to meet the unique needs of federal customers.

Lew Shadle, vice president of marketing at Timeplex Federal, said the company already has begun demonstrating Alcatel's products for his customers in the Defense Department, the intelligence community and the Justice Department. He added that Timeplex Federal sales reps also are talking to the major long-distance carriers and regional Bell operating companies to discuss potential partnerships on bids for GSA's FTS 2001 and Metropolitan Area Acquisition contracts.

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