Bell Labs’ Weldon Optimistic About Role of New Jersey Labs after Nokia Acquisition

Photo: Marcus Weldon, Bell Labs Photo Credit: Courtesy Bell Labs
Marcus Weldon, Bell Labs | Courtesy Bell Labs

Last week, interviewed Marcus Weldon, Bell Labs president and Alcatel-Lucent CTO, about some of the remarkable technologies being explored at the Bell Labs facility in Murray Hill.

Weldon believes that some of the research is so groundbreaking, it will have worldwide impact and perhaps snag some accolades for the lab, maybe even a Nobel Prize. The connection between the modern-day Bell Labs and the Bell Labs during the heyday of AT&T is not broken, he noted. will discuss that research in a separate story.

We asked Weldon what will happen to Bell Labs New Jersey after Nokia completes its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. In April, Nokia entered into an agreement to acquire Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs’ parent company. We covered the news of the acquisition here.

He told us that the acquisition is progressing, and that “there have been some very good discussions at the level that we are allowed to have discussions between the two companies.” Weldon believes that Nokia is “very enthusiastic about the prospect of being an owner of Bell Labs,” and that they are “impressed by what Bell Labs stands for, and in particular how boldly it addresses problems.”

Weldon explained that Bell Labs looks at problems 10 years out, and isn’t afraid to tackle them, even if some of the physics or mathematics is unknown or the material hasn’t yet been developed.

“I see nothing but a positive future,” he said, adding that  Bell Labs will probably get larger because it will inherit parts of the Nokia Research Center.

Things look good for the Bell Labs New Jersey facilities as well, said Weldon. “I think Bell Labs’ epicenter is in New Jersey, although there have been no real discussions about locations because [those discussions] are further down the line.  

“We have a significant number of our Bell Labs people in New Jersey, and I don’t think there is any significant intent to change that. I will add that, in my ideal world, Bell Labs New Jersey will grow, but all that has yet to be decided.”

He then said, “I see less threat to Bell Labs going forward than at probably any time in the last decade because we will be in a healthy, growing company that is very supportive of the Bell Labs methodology and approach. So I think that is a very good thing.”

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