Optical/IP Networks

BT Cashes In on 21CN

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has created a team to provide next-generation network consultancy services to other carriers, capitalizing on its experiences in planning, testing, and rolling out its £10 billion (US$18.9 billion) all-IP 21st Century Network (21CN).

BT is still at the early stages of building the new network -- it will start migrating customers to its new network in South Wales later this year and plans to complete the nationwide process in 2010. (See BT Plans Welsh Migration and BT Says 21CN Deadline Hasn't Moved.)

But the carrier believes it has gained so much experience since it announced its plans in 2004 that it can sell its know-how to other carriers planning to migrate from their current PSTNs to next-gen infrastructures. (See BT Moves Ahead With Mega Project, BT's 21CN Meets Its Skeptics, Bross: More to Come on 21CN, BT's Bross: Ethernet Will Deliver, BT Guru Picks Holes in NGNs, BT Takes 21CN 'Baby Step', BT's Learning From Google, 21CN: It's an Ethernet Thing, and BT Updates on 21CN.)

During a briefing in London Thursday morning, Andy Green, CEO of BT Global Services , the division that handles the carrier's large corporate customers worldwide, said that revenues from the telecom sector were growing significantly, and that the division is increasing its products, including "21CN consulting."

When pressed by Light Reading about what this entailed, Green said that "21CN is a very strong brand," and that a team had been created, comprising people from BT International (which handles large customers outside the U.K.) and from the CTO's office, which is run by Matt Bross. Green couldn't say, though, how big the team is or what sort of revenues BT hopes to generate from the service.

BT CEO Ben Verwaayen added that "the first license deal was signed during the last quarter," and that the team would be seeking "business development opportunities" that would be of a collaborative nature, working with hardware and software suppliers, though he stressed this didn't involve the creation of a new department within BT.

The CEO added that meetings are held every few months at BT's headquarters with its 21CN hardware and software suppliers and other carriers about 21CN developments.

Later, BT International's President, François Barrault, told Light Reading that the new team's offer to the market would comprise two elements:

The first is pure consultancy, including services such as network design, where the average size of contracts will be "between €10 million and €20 million" ($12.7 million and $25.4 million).

The second part involves "network management services to mobile operators such as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) that want to get into fixed-line services." (See Brits Get Cozy and Vodafone UK Offers DSL.)

He confirmed that one carrier had already been signed up, but said that neither that deal, nor the availability of the consultancy services, had yet been officially announced. "There's going to be a very big announcement. This has grown far faster than we ever imagined," said Barrault, adding that interest in the consulting services were coming from all over the world, including China.

It's unclear at this stage whether BT will be pulling its key 21CN network equipment and OSS suppliers into each of the consultancy deals, or whether the carrier would generate revenue from those companies should they be chosen by the carriers buying the 21CN advice and support services.

BT's lead 21CN suppliers include:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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