There has been a lot of confusion from new comers about why gear labelled Lucent, Avaya, Agere and Wavelan all appear to be the same. Below is a great explanation by SamBlackman which was stolen from the PersonalTelco MailingList. -- AdamShand
Lucent was spun out of AT&T in 1996. It was basically the "gear maker" part of AT&T, i.e. the part that didn't own all the network infrastructure. Lucent made a wide variety of telecomm hardware, from circuit switched to optical to wireless equipment.
In year 2000, several years of aggressively bad accounting caught up to Lucent, and they started missing revenue and profit forecasts. The stock got hammered, and management decided that the best way to keep investors happy -- as well as raise cash and decrease debt for the parent company -- would be to spin off business units.
The first unit they spun off was Avaya, which handles business networking stuff. That was in 2000. In a spinoff, the parent company sells a small percentage of the new company to the public -- usually 10 to 20% -- and then gives the rest to current shareholders as a dividend. So last year Lucent shareholders received a certain amount of Avaya stock based on how much Lucent stock they held.
The second unit they spun off was Agere, which was the microelectronics business -- chips and optoelectronics. Orinoco is a division of Agere, and if you want to get really specific was originally a company called WaveLAN that Lucent bought a few years ago.
So: Lucent, Avaya, and Agere are all now completely independent companies. Avaya and Agere used to be divisions of Lucent, but were spun off into their own separate companies. Finally, Orinoco is a division of Agere.
Update 22 Aug 2002
Proxim are buying/have bought Orinoco from Agere. Details at
ORiNOCO Acquisition now complete August 5, 2002 We are pleased to announce that Proxim Corporation has officially completed the acquisition of the ORiNOCO product line from Agere Corporation
This is the most interesting part (different pressrel) for us:
Agere and Proxim have executed a three-year strategic supply agreement, under which Agere will provide 802.11 chips, modules and cards to Proxim, a license agreement with regard to Proxim's use of Agere's wireless LAN technology and a broad patent cross-license agreement for their respective patent portfolios that will result in the settlement of the pending patent-related litigation between the two companies. Agere's new strategic supply agreement with Proxim represents a new engagement with a leading wireless LAN equipment provider.
Updated 22 Aug 2002 (in reverse chronology)
AT&T and Digital Ocean to develop wireless LAN controller chip
FOR RELEASE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 1995
UTRECHT, The Netherlands -- AT&T Network Systems and Digital Ocean? today announce the joint development of an IEEE 802.11 compliant wireless LAN controller.
Implemented as a single chip, the WMAC (Wireless Medium Access Controller) features low-power operation, high throughput and will support AT&T's WaveLAN® protocol, Digital Ocean's OceanTalk? protocol as well as the proposed 802.11 standard for wireless LAN communication. When paired with a suitable RF modem, a wireless LAN interface can be implemented in a PCMCIA type II card.
According to Jeff Alholm, president of Digital Ocean, "Ratification of the 802.11 standard, expected fourth quarter of 1995, will provide a catalyst for widespread adoption of wireless LANs by ensuring interoperability between stations running on different platforms. Under the proposed wireless standard, a common wireless infrastructure will support multiple vendors' products, allowing customers to choose products from various providers without worrying about compatibility issues."
The WMAC supports both direct sequence and frequency hopping spread spectrum radios as well as infrared modems. Implemented as a single chip it is designed to attach directly to either a PCMCIA version 2.1 or a version 3 PC Card. ISA Plug and Play compatibility will also be available. Features include advanced power management, support for both access point and station functionality, built-in encryption and decryption, seamless micro-cellular roaming, and support for a variety of wireless LAN protocols. The controller can provide a Point Coordination Function (PCF) which is useful in supporting time bounded services.
"Our five year long leadership in the wireless LAN market has been the basis for understanding critical user needs to develop a superior MAC solution," comments Cees Links, AT&T WaveLAN director of product management. "Wireless LANs are the solution for indoor connectivity. Understanding these needs will enable the development of the products needed for this market."
The development between AT&T and Digital Ocean involves joint design and development work at both sites, with controller development concentrated at Digital Ocean and integration and software efforts led by AT&T. Both companies bring significant technological expertise in the areas of wireless LAN communications, and have played instrumental roles in the development and approval of the 802.11 wireless LAN standard.
AT&T's mission is to be the world's best at bringing people together -- giving them easy access to each other and to the information and services they want and need -- anytime, anywhere. Network Wireless Systems, a division of AT&T Network Systems, designs, manufactures and markets wireless network equipment and a complete line of wireless LAN connectivity products for the global cellular and PCS industries. According to a recent IDC study, AT&T holds the majority share of the global wireless LAN market. The company's WaveLAN product suite provides customers with a reliable product line that addresses multiple wireless and portable computing needs including seamless enterprise-wide roaming capabilities and flexible solutions for desktop workstations, notebooks, laptops and hand-held devices.
Digital Ocean develops and manufactures state-of-the-art wireless connectivity products for the entire line of Apple's desktop, portable and pen-based devices. Digital Ocean uses AT&T's WaveLAN RF modem in its Grouper? line of products. Many features of Digital Ocean's unique controller technology are being incorporated into the WMAC controller chip. All of the company's LocalTalk? and Ethernet products include micro-cellular roaming allowing users to travel freely throughout a building or campus while maintaining network services. Digital Ocean is headquartered in Lenexa, Kansas, USA.
Both AT&T and Digital Ocean have numerous patents granted and pending for the development of wireless technologies.