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VoIP Systems

Newport Snares 21CN Exec

Session border controller vendor Newport Networks plc (London: NNG) scored something of an appointment coup this morning by announcing Alan Nunn, formerly the chief voice architect for BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s 21CN project, as its CTO.

Nunn was with BT for 19 years, and spent the past three to four years working alongside CTO Matt Bross on the voice infrastructure plans for the carrier's next generation network. (See BT's 21CN Builds on MSF Specs, BT Takes 21CN 'Baby Step', and BT Closes 21CN Deals, Touts IPTV.)

Nunn, who started at the session border controller (SBC) firm this morning, says "Newport wanted someone to provide a carrier perspective, and I'm well positioned to do that. The IP interconnect market, which is where Newport is focused, is ripe for change, and I wanted to be part of Newport's growth."

While other SBC vendors, such as Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT), Netrake Corp. , and NexTone Communications Inc. , have developed capabilities for the edge of the network as well as the core, Newport has focused on developing a product that enables carriers to interconnect their core IP networks in a secure and stable way.

The question is why Nunn would swap a key position at one of the telecom industry's most exciting network transformation projects for a role in a small, specialized vendor that has so far struggled to make its mark.

Perhaps it's the prospect of helping give the company some momentum when it needs it most, with share options as a potential incentive. Newport floated on the London Stock Exchange in May 2004 before it had even unveiled its 1460 SBC. It says it is focused on Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers, but so far no major deals have materialized.

Newport's share price has dropped substantially -- currently at £0.20 compared with its £0.71 float price -- and the company was forced to raise more money earlier this year. (See Session Controller IPO Scores Success, Newport Needs Another $27M, and Newport Edges Towards Target.)

Nunn says this is a chance to be "part of a growing company -- my voice will be heard much easier and it'll be easier to get things moving quickly."

So was that a problem at BT? Nunn says he only wants to discuss his current role, and that his knowledge of IP interconnect issues and involvement with the next generation standards work at European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) will provide Newport with essential experience. (See ETSI Issues NGN.)

What about the business potential -- will his involvement at Newport help the firm land business at BT? Nunn says that while he expects to maintain existing relationships with people at BT, his job is "more than about facing back into BT." (See Newport Gets IMS.)

As for whether BT will be announced as a customer, Nunn couldn't say. "The company has significant traction -- it's looking very positive," he says.

Meanwhile, Newport has been busy shoring up its sales channels. The company has just signed a resale agreement with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), a key supplier to BT's 21CN project, and has also brokered another deal with an as yet unnamed major vendor, thought by industry sources to be Nortel Networks Ltd. . (See Ericsson Retains Newport Deal and Newport Touts Channel Deal.)

The vendor's marketing chief Mike Wilkinson says Nunn's experience of interconnect issues in the U.K. market and Newport's compliance with Network Interoperability Consultative Committee (NICC) requirements give the company a great chance to win business throughout Europe. Newport believes the NICC's definitions will be adopted throughout Europe as a standard way for IP networks to link and hand over traffic. (See Newport OK With UK VOIP.)

"We've been looking for a CTO for some time now. Alan was an ideal candidate given his history at BT and knowledge of interconnect issues," adds Wilkinson.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 3:56:22 AM
re: Newport Snares 21CN Exec What does this move say about the progress of the 21CN project?
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:56:20 AM
re: Newport Snares 21CN Exec That it is slow and that his voice was not being heard.
xyzzy12 12/5/2012 | 3:56:16 AM
re: Newport Snares 21CN Exec It's seems like it would be a negative on Newport. A person leaves with 'sour grapes' and now wants to sell back into his former employer ... could be a tough sell ...
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