Site:                Alcatel
                      54 rue La Boetie
                      75008 Paris

Date Visited:  29 April 1999

WTEC Attendees: R. Pickholtz (report author), M. Iskander, J. Winters, L. Young

Hosts:            Vinod Kumar
                     Alistar Urie
                     Alain Bravo
                     Martial Guillaume
                     Elie Bejjani
                     Hikmet Sari
                     Gert Bostelmann


This site is the Corporate Headquarters for Alcatel (Alcatel Telecom plus Business and Corporate). The new organization for Alcatel is a matrix of services and business divisions that operate worldwide. Some highlights of this matrix, as they directly impact or are impacted by wireless technology include:



Access Systems

Enterprise and Consumer



- Internet Access

Professional and Consumer



- Transmission Systems




- Space Products


Alcatel operates a Corporate Research Center (CRC) with 700-800 people, an IP group of 200 persons, and a Technical Strategy and Standardization program (40 people).

The CRC supports scientific/technical projects for short to medium (2-5 years) terms plus some long-term (8-10 years) projects to prepare for the future. Publication and professional society activity is viewed favorably. CRC is spread over many sites: France (6), Spain, Belgium, Germany, and the United States. Currently there are eight technical departments: software, energy, optical, radio, space, network access, network architecture, and private networks.

M. Guillaume gave a thoughtful and informative talk on both the business prospects of wireless and the emergence/convergence of technologies through 2004. He expects voice traffic to increase by a factor of 2 but non-voice is a major trend that may overtake it. European initiatives to provide Internet services include General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and the consideration of portable operating systems (OS) such as CE, Palm Pilot, Symbian and Java+. The general feeling is that many companies will contend for dominance of portable digital devices via the operating system, as this will drive applications and services. The OS will also play a large role in the services delivered by wireless.

Alcatel is firmly established in the circuit switched (CS) business but is also moving rapidly to provide packet switched (PS) IP Networks. Alcatel is prepared to offer wireless mobile service via both modes. It was not clear that there would be a strong convergence in the next few years.

Alcatel is also very much involved in satellite communications and has built remarkable technology for radar and signal processing, mostly for military applications. These technologies, however, are quite suitable for commercial adaptation to wireless communications.

In particular, Alcatel developed several working active antenna array systems with beamforming in the K-band, 12.5 - 12.75 MHz only using both amplitude and phase control of 48 subarrays with 3 x 48 control elements.

T/R beam steering antennas with over 6,000 elements have been designed.

H. Sari presented a number of ideas for improving the physical layer performance that are being studied including, but not limited to, turbo codes, multicarrier transmission, improved CDMA plus, informally, a number of theoretical "hot topics" and their likelihood of implementation.

Such emphasis was given to bring the digital processing closer to the antenna by incorporating the low noise amplifiers (LNAs) upconverter and L.O. into a single chip. The bottlenecks for full software radio are high dynamic range, wideband, accurate A/D converter, frequency synthesizers, and good LNAs that are integratable.

Elie Bejjani predicted that wireless might replace the last mile (local loop) even for high speed applications. There was discussion of "mobile dedicated HTML" for encompassing the unique character of mobile links and possible novel applications. Emphasis was placed on PS with IP/ATM or direct ATM Wireless.

Focus topics for research included turbo codes, CDMA optimization, multicarrier improvements (crest factor, synchronization), better, faster power control, study of dynamic effects of power control and optimization, tradeoffs between diversity and array processing gain, and novel techniques for non-coherent modulation/demodulation.

There was considerable discussion about the four-way wireless/wired/CS/PS standards and the ultimate convergence of these parts. Additional discussions included software radio and the European vs. North American approach.


Alcatel personnel made a series of organized presentations. In addition there were several annual review reports, which convey the sense of direction of work being done at Alcatel in all areas of telecommunications. Wireless communications is one component of this. The distinct impression conveyed was that Alcatel considers wireless to be one component, albeit a very important one, of a vast, emerging global network.

The main thrust of the meeting with Alcatel was systems. The hosts did not address specific hardware devices such as microwave components, physical antennas, or semiconductor technology. However, Alcatel is involved in these areas.

Published: July 2000; WTEC Hyper-Librarian