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Juniper Gets a Piece of KT

Router manufacturer Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) today announced it has landed a deal with KT Corp. to build the incumbent carrier's new metro Ethernet services network in South Korea (see KT Chooses Juniper Router).

Sound familiar? That’s because Laurel Networks Inc. on Tuesday trumpeted the same deal (see Laurel Wraps Up KT Deal).

Juniper said it will be selling its M-Series edge router as “the primary” platform to support the metro Ethernet enterprise service in 14 cities serviced by KT.

However, it's not exactly clear how “primary” Juniper is. It’s common for service providers to double-source a contract such as this, so that they can play equipment vendors off one another and get a better price. Sometimes, one vendor emerges as the primary supplier. But in this case, KT wasn’t available to comment on who's getting the lion's share.

”KT likes to spread their capital spending around,” says Kevin Mitchell, an analyst with Infonetics Research Inc. “In fact, almost any router company has some equipment in the KT network. But because there are two incumbent router companies, any piece that Laurel wins is good for them.”

Laurel Marketing VP Steve Vogelsang contends that the contract is “equal.” He also claims that the products are serving the same application: metro Ethernet Internet access.

But there’s a hitch. Juniper says its product is being used to create Layer 2 VPNs using MPLS technology. That would allow KT to market services such as secure Ethernet leased-line services, which are an alternative to services such as Frame Relay. Laurel said on Tuesday that KT might have plans to do this in the future, but won’t initially be offering VPN services. Does this mean the routers are being used for different applications?

Well, only those Krafty Koreans would know for sure. And they ain’t talking.

This afternoon, Juniper’s stock was off $0.10 (0.6%) to $16.69.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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