Alcatel-Lucent is moving in on the market for core network gear with new routers that support up to 32 terabytes per second.

The infrastructure giant has typically focused on the edge of the network, but its 7950 XRS core router system handles traffic at the heart of networks, an equipment market long dominated by Cisco and its smaller rival Juniper Networks.

“With the 7950 XRS, we are revolutionizing the network core, just as we did over the past ten years at the network edge with service routing," Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP division, said.

Network operators spend about $4 billion each year on IP core routers, according to estimates provided by Alcatel-Lucent.

So far, there are three routers in the 7950 XRS product line. The XRS-20 supports 16 terabytes per second and will become available in the third quarter of this year. The other two, the XRS-40 and the XRX-16c, will be available in the first half of next year. The XRS-40 supports 32 terabytes per second, and the XRS-16c supports 6.4 terabytes per second.

The routers took more than three years to develop, Alcatel-Lucent said. The company claims they will provide a five-fold improvement in capacity and performance compared with the typical IP core routers currently deployed in operators' networks.

Alcatel-Lucent's foray into the core router space comes as other major equipment vendors are overhauling their businesses to adapt to lower demand in markets where operators are cutting spending on legacy 3G networks as they move to LTE.

Nokia Siemens Networks, which has struggled to overcome repeated losses, sold off several of its businesses last year to focus on more profitable LTE contracts like its recent deal with T-Mobile USA.

Competitor Ericsson, which also has a share of the T-Mobile contract, is taking a different strategy, sticking with its end-to-end services and equipment strategy. Ericsson has a solid hold on the U.S. LTE market, but even it has encountered difficulties. Last month, it announced it would layoff about 10 percent of its North American employees.