Nature magazine reported last month that Bell Labs was dialing down fundmental physics research and that many of its scientists in that particular department had been moved to other areas of emphasis. Wired News Blogs followed up the report a few days later, writing, that Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs unit was "pulling out of basic science, material physics and semiconductor research and will instead be focusing on more immediately marketable areas such as networking, high-speed electronics, wireless, nanotechnology and software." Wired also condemned Bell Labs and its owner for losing touch with its mission of innovation
Bell Labs has not said much to specifically back up those reports, but the issue agains cropped up at Telephony this week, where Kevin Fitchard calls some of the coverage "exaggerated--or at least over-simplified." He adds, "What Bell Labs did was eliminate its material and device physics group, which focused on developing new materials and processes for microelectronics." Fitchard notes that while Bell Labs is not the same organization it used to be, it should hardly be taken to the woodshed for having to change a bit with the times.
Bell Labs has been re-inventing itself for a while
Bell Labs collaborated with NTT on optical