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Optical/IP

Vendors Fall for Pigeon Prank

When European carrier KPNQwest BV (Nasdaq: KQIP; Amsterdam: KNQST) called for bids for backbone router equipment last November, Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) ended up getting the contract. But Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) got the joke.

The joke was embedded in a request for proposal (RFP) put out by KPNQwest. The carrier added a spoof Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFC (request for comment) to the documents, and asked vendors whether they supported it.

The RFC in question -- RFC 2549 “IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service” -- is an update of RFC 1149, which describes the use of carrier pigeons in technical jargon. The update extends this to include, among other things, bulk transfer by ostrich.

Responses revealed that a fair proportion of vendors will say they support a standard without having any idea of what the standard is about, much less whether they really support it.

That’s pretty much what most people suspected -- and sometimes it's what carriers deserve, because they often seem to demand support for standards that aren’t really of any use to them, according to vendors.

KPNQwest certainly caught some vendors napping with its little jape, described by Ronald E. van der Breggen, KPNQwest’s senior director of IP network development, at IIR's Telecom Transmission Networking 2000 conference in Barcelona last week.

In their submissions to KPNQwest, several vendors said they supported these RFCs, according to van der Breggen, who declines to name the birdbrains. A few vendors, Juniper being one of them, simply noted that the RFC wasn’t serious. Cisco was the only one to respond in an appropriate vein by writing “only on April 1” against the RFC in question.

Pigeon and RFP -- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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