Huawei Gets BT's Blessing

UK incumbent praises Chinese vendor (a lot) for its innovation and responsiveness

March 25, 2004

2 Min Read
Huawei Gets BT's Blessing

China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. staged a bit of a coup at a luncheon it held at The Dorchester Hotel in London today.

None other than Matt Bross, the CTO of BT Group plc (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA), turned up, along with more than 30 other BT staff and representatives from a number of other major carriers in the U.K.

And that's not all. Brian Levy, BT Group technology officer, gave a presentation in which he publicly praised Chinese equipment vendors in general, and Huawei in particular, for their "fantastic innovation," contradicting a widely-held Western stereotype of Chinese vendors, as manufacturers of low-cost "me-too" products.

Huawei's "responsiveness, its willingness to work with us" had Levy in transports of enthusiasm. "We feel that together we can take the industry into future growth. There's a common culture -- listening to customers. I wish we could find that in other companies."

"We're tapping into a fantastic resource," Levy rhapsodized, referring to joint development projects that BT and Huawei are working on. "To ignore that resource would be absolutely criminal."

Levy says BT and Huawei started talking to each other in 2002, and are now working together in couple of brainstorming "workshops," one of them related to BT's 21st Century Network concept.

BT and Huawei are also working on various projects together. One of them is based on an "alternative supplier model" under which the wholesale division of BT builds, operates, and maintains facilities using Huawei products, for use by other service providers. An example of this is EEscape Ltd., which is planning to roll out a nationwide VOIP service in the U.K. in April. The services are furnished by a Huawei softswitch bought by BT and installed in its Facilities Management Center (see EEscape Deploys Huawei VOIP Kit).

In other joint projects, BT and Huawei are developing a broadband home gateway and a WiFi phone.

BT and Huawei are also "evaluating" various Huawei products, presumably for use in BT's own network (as opposed to its Facilities Management Center, used by other operators). These include Huawei's Intelligent Network Service Control Point, softswitch, "voice gateways" (probably media gateways), and DSL modems, according to Levy's presentation.

At the luncheon, Huawei announced plans to expand its staff in the U.K. to 200 within three years, from about 80 now. It also announced some partnerships to help it grow -- with a BT division called Network Build Ltd., which builds networks (really); with Anixter Inc., for logistics; with STS Communications, an integrator specializing in optical networks; and with Accenture, for training customers.

— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading

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