BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) ended months of speculation today by naming the companies that will supply the equipment for its 21st Century network, or 21CN (see BT Names 21CN Suppliers ).

The biggest shock is that British vendor Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI) is NOT among the eight key suppliers, each of which will bring a range of partners. Only yesterday, Marconi was tipped as a "certain" 21CN winner by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (see Analyst: Marconi in Line for 21CN ).

Marconi's share price plunged 44 percent on the news this morning, dropping to 270.5 pence, from 482 pence.

Other highlights include the involvement of Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in the access and transmission categories, and the notable exclusion of Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) from the access category.

Here's the list of winners:

Access: Multiservice Access Nodes (MSANs)
Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe Ltd., an existing supplier of DSLAMs to BT, is supplying its GeoStream Access Gateway. That choice looks like good news for metro optical vendor Meriton Networks Inc. (see Meriton, Fujitsu Make a Match).

The only other MSAN supplier is Huawei, leaving shortlisted vendors Alcatel and Marconi out in the cold, a decision that will surprise many (see Huawei Picked for BT's 21CN and BT Shuns Marconi for 21CN).

Metro Routers and Switches
Alcatel, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Siemens Communications Group are the chosen ones for the metro nodes (see Alcatel Picked for BT's 21CN, Cisco Picked for BT's 21CN, and Siemens Picked for BT's 21CN).

Alcatel is providing its 7750 Service Router, the former TiMetra IP platform, and its 5620 Service Aware Manager (see Alcatel Eyes Video Market).

Analysts at Lehman Brothers noted that Alcatel's inclusion in the metro category but exclusion from access is "on balance, a slight negative."

Core Routers
No surprises here, as BT will use Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) gear, though Juniper isn't named as a preferred supplier.

That honor goes to its partner Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), which will supply Juniper's M320, T640 and TX Matrix routing platforms and its own element management system.

In addition, Lucent's Worldwide Services and Bell Labs divisions will provide "network planning, integration, deployment and support," said the vendor in an official release (see Lucent, Juniper to Supply BT 21CN).

Network Intelligence, or I-node Technology
Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) is the sole supplier for systems that BT says "includes softswitches, network intelligence, and bandwidth management capabilities." (See BT Picks Ericsson for 21CN.)

Transmission, Optical Equipment
Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) and Huawei are the winners here. Ciena, which says it is supplying "switching and transmission and Ethernet transport platforms," had been expected to participate (see BT Picks Ciena for 21CN).

Table 1: BT's 21CN Preferred Suppliers
Access Metro Core I-Nodes Transmission
Fujitsu Alcatel Cisco Ericsson Ciena
Huawei Cisco Lucent Huawei
  • Access -- the access domain in this context is the aggregation equipment (multiservice access node -- MSANs) which will link BT�s existing access network, initially carrying voice and data services from end users on to the 21CN core IP-based network.
  • Metro nodes provide the routing and signaling functions for the unified 21CN network for voice, data, and video.
  • Core nodes are the high capacity, large scale routers providing cost efficient connections between metro nodes.
  • i-node is where the service execution functionality is located -- in essence the intelligence that controls services. In the 21CN context, this includes softswitches, network intelligence, and bandwidth management capabilities.
  • Transmission includes the optical fiber transport infrastructure that connects all nodes in 21CN but also the electronics that convert the signals carried at high capacity over the cables connecting the MSANs, metro, and core nodes. Much of the optical fibre infrastructure is already in place and today we are announcing the preferred suppliers for the optical electronics.
    Source: BT Group plc

  • The key to BT's decisions appears to be economics. "In order to achieve world class delivery of the programme, the selection of suppliers has been about much more than choosing technology and selecting partners," says BT Wholesale CEO Paul Reynolds in a prepared statement. "The commercial agreements, which the company expects to conclude over the summer, will include open standards and a focus on whole life costs."

    In other words, the margins are razor thin, and Marconi says it didn't make the final selection because it couldn't meet BT's commercial needs.

    "This is a disappointing outcome from a very competitive tender process," said Marconi CEO Mike Parton in a statement. "Our products performed extremely well technically, but we have been unable to meet BT's commercial requirements."

    Marconi notes that it will "continue to supply equipment and services to BT under the various, multi-year frame contracts it has in place."

    Given Marconi's long history with BT, its exclusion will come as a serious blow. The price squeeze will likely have favored Huawei, though, given its reputation for providing decent quality but low-cost technology.

    BT's decisions will have significant implications for all the vendors involved, as the 21CN will provide a shop window into which other major carriers making their own next-generation network plans will peer closely.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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    materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:17:02 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Perhaps this explains the timing of JNPR's acquisiiton of Kagoor.
    OptoScot 12/5/2012 | 3:17:01 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers On the political front there is no way France Telecom would snub a French supplier in the way BT has snubbed Marconi and it's highly unlikely the Germans would either. There's no level playing field in Europe.
    Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:17:01 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers xbar, or xvar. No, just fact that Juniper also won with Siemens in the metro. Cisco is certainly not acting like a leader, more like the child follower. Hey Mike, do another press release.
    donniall 12/5/2012 | 3:17:01 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Its a measure of Nortels decline that they didn't even make the short-list let alone the final supplier list .........
    Makes you wonder how secure the Nortel/BT partnership is in the enterprise space (ie Meridian et al) ...
    xbar 12/5/2012 | 3:17:01 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Honestly,

    Honestly you have no clue. Rubish.

    xbar 12/5/2012 | 3:16:57 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Honestly,

    Your cheerleading for Juniper just shows you continously drink from the Juniper loony toons' coolaid and Honestly you cannot accept new realities.

    Juniper is in decline; any company buying a compression routing solution for $300M is desperate to show more than $1M revenue per quarter in enterprise. Next quarter they will show 15M or 1500% increase over this quarter.

    Grow up!

    Fhunton 12/5/2012 | 3:16:56 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers So what are BTs plan exactly, are they going to build this network as a seperate entity ans then once all is built, switch all traffic to this network ( i know this sounds simplistic but is that the general idea)

    For instance, BT use Nortel for DWDM and they have a big install base of this. Is the kit then just destined for the bin once Ciena kit etc is installed?

    Or will the new kit be used with old kit of this new network?
    narendran 12/5/2012 | 3:16:56 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Guess the 'out' it is more for the DSLAM part. Their IP DSLAM is more like the flagship product. I think TiMetra is more like a consolation prize.
    andropat 12/5/2012 | 3:16:54 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers xbar,

    quit being ciscos continued whipping boy.. BT has spoken... just like the GIG-BE project spoke last year.. Juniper in core AND edge...

    sorry Crisco...

    AAL5 12/5/2012 | 3:16:51 AM
    re: BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers Really children its time to all stop drinking from the company Kool Aid. You know, you can actually work for a company and not be blinded by the marketing B.S.

    Some directed comments:

    Honestly - You are clueless. I have read a number of your posts and its my honest opinion you have 0% to contribute.

    Xbar - Juniper is definitely not in decline.

    Andropat - Yes Juniper/Cisco is in core and Edge, this is a wise decision if you're looking for your suppliers to beat each other up over price.

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