Technology And Business; January 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Gibbs; 2 Page(s)
Robert W. Lucky shakes off a shiver as he sits down to talk about the future of Bell Communications Research, the giant telecommunications laboratory where he presides over applied research. Earlier that November morning he had awakened to find his powerboat missing. High winds during the night had loosed it from its mooring on the Navesink River in New Jersey. Lucky found the wayward craft drifting downstream, intact but powerless, its batteries dead. He had no choice but to plunge into the chill waters and swim home with the vessel in tow.
The unpleasant adventure sounds a lot like Lucky's job description. Bellcore is struggling through a storm of competitive maneuvering as the Baby Bells that own it break their geographical bounds and grasp for national markets in wireless, video and data services. "The model that Bellcore was based on--seven owners with congruent interests--is certainly no longer the reality," Lucky observes. Increasing competition among the telephone companies "makes it almost untenable as time goes along. Each one wants proprietary solutions, unique advantages. And their biggest competitors are sitting across the [boardroom] table."