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AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy

Ray Le Maistre

Following months of speculation that it is revamping its technology sourcing strategy, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) today launched its Domain Supplier program, a "major change in the way the company sources new technology for its core network."

Light Reading previously reported on AT&T's plans in June, when talk that the carrier would select two vendors in each of 14 separate categories first appeared. (See Analyst: New AT&T Policy Puts Vendors at Risk.)

The operator confirmed in today's announcement that it will have "two suppliers selected and pre-qualified by AT&T" in each domain, presenting a "significant opportunity for them to work in that domain for a set multi-year period." However, "there is no guarantee of any business award," the operator added.

AT&T hasn't specified how many domains -- "areas of the future network bounded by a particular technology set" -- it will have, but it did offer up the example of Wireline Access, which "includes technologies such as IP/DSLAM and FTTx."

An AT&T spokesman says the company has identified seven or eight domains so far, and "we may be defining further domains in the future." He declined to identify the domains.

AT&T is also keeping tight-lipped about its domain vendors. "Some have been chosen and notified," is as far as the spokesman would go.

It's hard to imagine, though, that Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) won't be among the chosen few.

The name all other vendors will be hoping isn't included in AT&T's selection is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

AT&T says the new approach will benefit the chosen few by "allowing them to work more closely with AT&T by sharing timelines, project roadmaps and other information and, ultimately, enabling them to more quickly realize revenue due to expedited deployment of their hardware or software."

Being a domain vendor goes beyond just leaving a box at AT&T's doorstep, the release adds. "Suppliers selected for each domain will be responsible for the integration, testing, support and delivery of the complete end-to-end solution for the equipment or software in the domain that they have been awarded. If a selected domain supplier chooses to work with a third party to deliver the technology within their domain, they will be expected to completely integrate, test and support the third party provider's technology into the end-to-end solution."

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) took a similar approach with its 21CN next-generation network program: BT chose a number of initial key suppliers and tasked them with finding the appropriate partners that could deliver the right end-to-end solutions.

That process, though, has resulted in some bitterness from the smaller vendors co-opted by BT's main equipment partners, with accusations in some cases that the extended partners had their technologies compromised, and that they were forced into margin-squeezing arrangements that threatened their financial health.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:57:05 PM
re: AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy

What does this mean to the small to midsized vendors? They probably have to work with larger competitors as systems integrators all the time, so it may be a non-event.

But... if I were them, I still wouldn't feel too comfortable knowing that a rival was managing my business with one of my biggest customers.

User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:57:01 PM
re: AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy



In a word....nothing.

Why do I say that?  The smaller folks were not getting the big business anyway, so they went to the niche businesses that the big folks were not doing and are still not doing.  Wnat an example?  Adtran.



User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 3:56:33 PM
re: AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy

Samsung seems to be making the early running in supplying LTE handsets. Verizon is testing with Samsung (and LG), MetroPCS is going to use a dual-mode device from Samsung. No wonder AT&T wants to wait for 2011 for LTE rollout, they want more choice in the market


Dan Jones, Unstrung

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