Upheaval at BT's 21CN?
Speculation about a management "cull" around the 21CN project, and talk of technical difficulties related to the implementation of voice services, had already begun when BT announced Tuesday that Andy Green, who was named as the carrier's CEO of group strategy and operations and put in charge of the 21CN project in April this year, will leave at the end of 2007. (See Green Leaves BT.)
Green is taking the CEO's role at IT services firm LogicaCMG plc (London/Amsterdam: LOG), with some reports suggesting he was lured from BT with a package that could be worth £5.6 million ($7.9 million) in his first year in the new job.
So has there been a cull? Is the 21CN project in disarray?
The carrier says it's nothing as dramatic as that, though there have been changes in personnel (one of them earlier in the year when Paul Reynolds left to go to New Zealand), and a technical review of the 21CN program is currently underway. (See Reynolds Leaving BT to Run TNZ.)
Communications director Joe Kelly says "any suggestion there has been a cull is inaccurate. There has been a group-wide reorganization at BT, and some executives have moved on, some have changed jobs. The 21CN process is moving into the implementation process, and that requires different skills and focus."
As for a review of the NGN project, Kelly says there's "a continual review of the overall program as new technologies emerge and market dynamics change." (See Nortel, Siemens Win PBT Deals at BT.)
He adds: "Every year there is a major refresh. This is something we have done for the past two years too. It's still early days in the delivery of 21CN. Some areas are going well; other areas are more challenging, as you would expect with a project that is as challenging at 21CN." The BT man refused to comment on any specific areas of difficulty or talk about individual 21CN vendors, though.
He also declined to talk about individual executives, though he did comment on the BT executives that are now effectively running the 21CN project that is due to become BT's single, IP-based network in less than five years' time. (See BT Aims to Finish 21CN in Late 2011.)
Al-Noor Ramji, the CEO of BT Design, which is responsible for the design and development of new services, is now the main go-to guy for the 21CN project, and will work closely with George Nazi, who was until recently the VP of global engineering at BT Global Services , working on that division's new network rollout. (See BT Unveils Strategy Team.)
While BT is playing down changes at 21CN, sources close to the project say frustration is building within BT at a perceived lack of progress and holdups in some key areas.
One source says there are delays in the delivery of new multiservice access equipment, and problems with the new network's voice service-related elements in the 21CN Intelligence Node, where BT has been working exclusively with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). (See Ericsson to Bring Partners to 21CN Party and BT Closes 21CN Deals, Touts IPTV.)
That source, who requested anonymity and who has in-depth knowledge of BT's 21CN, believes BT may revamp its approach to voice interconnect and the management of legacy TDM-based voice services in the 21CN network to overcome some of the problems. Any such move would likely take some time, though, as it would require clearance from U.K. regulator the Ofcom and consultation with the U.K.'s other carriers that have to interconnect with, and use, BT's infrastructure.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading