Upheaval at BT's 21CN?

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has denied that there has been a cull of executives at its 21CN next generation network project. Instead, the carrier says the re-evaluation of the £10 billion ($20.4 billion) network's technical makeup is part of a planned regular annual process.

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

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bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:01:01 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? Okay lets go back and look at the history here:

1) A BT company too much in the TDM world and with no IP focus. Lots of red tape and a slow service provider with a captive market. Tells vendors what it wants but does not buy.

2) Disapointing financials results in appointment of new CEO who brings in a new CTO.

3) A "stupid" RFP/RFQ presented by BT (a regular occurence at BT when its time to create market wow)

4) Selection of no-UK bendor China WhoreWay for IP access due to price dumping !

5) Demise of Marconi(Plessey-GEC) companies as they do not win any of the access business - too expensive ! and not IP. Plenty of others selected but the incumbent vendor gets screwed.

6) Failure of Huwai to deliver, technical challenges and more price negotiations.

7) Failure of BT to deliver on its promise signs of the 21CN = 21st Crappy Network

8) Old guard BT executives looking for an exit to safer pastures - fed up with new CEO and CTO anyway.

9) Poor financials - appointment of new new CEO and of course CTO - good severance package tho.

10 Repeat step 1)

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:00:59 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? Me too Ray.....

Yet you challenged the statement.Wht do you have to say now !
berty 12/5/2012 | 3:00:59 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? Back in 2004.

brucee 12/5/2012 | 3:00:57 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? bollocks,

>6) Failure of Huwai to deliver, technical challenges and more price negotiations.

Not sure it was mentioned in the article, thought just is:
>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

Thought BT always had a backup and they are working with the Japs(Fujitsu) on this one?

Shad some lights?

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:00:56 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? Bruce Lee

Huawei quote..

"Huawei believe that being selected to supply BT with 21CN network infrastructure will generate new employment prospects, which will help to maintain many existing industry positions and ensure that many new jobs will be created here in the UK. - LOL"

They have business on the MSAN part of the network. I suspect their voice solution is not quite mature for the UK market.

Erik. have the voice service platforms is also creating problems but Softswitch VoIP on a large scale in BT 21CN network is not as mature as BT originally thought.

Yes Fujitsu is a solid DSLAM provider. But perhaps Marconi thro Erik. will be broght back into the MSAN space displacing Huawei - after all who knows UK voice better than Marconi !

Toad680 12/5/2012 | 3:00:55 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? BT21CN is an astonishing mess. And Carphone Warehouse is gaining scale quickly.

The destruction of Marconi in the process of BT's debacle is very sad indeed.
runnyme 12/5/2012 | 3:00:55 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? hi bollocks187,

what did huawei do to you? have they make you redundant or a big pay cut which result in your whore running away? If this is the case, pls have my sympathy.
OSXman 12/5/2012 | 3:00:55 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? The MSAN business is being shared by Fujitsu and Huawei. Fujitsu's equipment has already been qualified in the system, although not without some delays. They stand to be a significant beneficiary of Huawei's problems.

Fujitsu is the incumbent vendor and was always thought to have a chance at the greater market share. Importantly, they are based in Birmingham and have a large, on-the-ground staff that is familiary with the BT network. That's a big advantage versus Huawei.

Does anyone know the Huawei problems specifically? Is it technological or procedural?
bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:00:54 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? My guess is both.....

Given BT is a very 'picky' company they are probale behind in providnf the right procedures and documentation for BT personnel.

In addition there combo POTS Plus ADSL has only perhaps 2 eastern cusotmers who are not of the same calibre as BT.

Fuji. has a good team on the ground in the UK - ex GPT guys.

I still think the MSAN from Marconi will come thro even tho BT Royally screwed them over.

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:00:54 PM
re: Upheaval at BT's 21CN? RunnyME

Nope - I have competed against WhoreWay. I have been to China and visited them and seen how they work.

I simple view them as one of the 'big bad arrogant' guys right now. They are different in that they are a pure govt supported company with a nationlistic agenda.

They are currently working on the developing nations with ambition 3rd world countries. In competiting they making incredible pricing concession which are absurd as well as feature roadmaps - any credible engineer will verify.

Unlike many invaders-colonist before them they leave nothing of value behind - lol. For example anthying they can see or hear about in tthe west they run back to China to copy.

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