NICE, France -- NGON 2017 -- BT has started the process of evaluating networking technology startups that, if selected, will end up in the operator's TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC) and grabbing a share of a $170 million-plus pool of venture capital (VC) funding, a BT research executive announced here today.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) got involved in the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) through its acquisition of UK mobile operator EE, which was very keen on TIP's aim to bring commodity hardware, commodity software and standard open APIs to the telecom networking world. And now BT is all in on the project. Earlier this year the UK operator announced two TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC) -- the first in Europe -- that are designed to help "create a global, sustainable ecosystem that attracts the brightest entrepreneurial minds and innovative investors to work together to produce breakthrough technologies and products in the telecom infrastructure space." One BT TEAC is in London, the other at Adastral Park, the home of BT Labs.
And along with Facebook , BT "corralled VCs [venture capitalists]" to invest in a TEAC startup fund that currently stands at £130 million ($165 million), noted Dr. Paul Gunning, principal researcher at BT, who stressed that neither BT nor Facebook has invested in the fund. Among the VCs involved are Touchstone Innovations, Atlantic Bridge, Capital Enterprise, Downing Ventures, Entrepreneur First, Episode1, IP Group and OSI (Oxford Sciences Innovation). (Interestingly, IP Group is in the process of trying to acquire Touchstone.)
BT has embarked on a "roadshow" and has begun its "pre-selection" of initial startups, with a view to selecting the first tranche of startups as soon as September this year, stated Gunning.
He noted that BT is particularly interested in TIP developments that will apply to BT/EE's plans for 5G and also for data center interconnect (DCI) deployments.
That's particularly interesting, as the TIP community has already launched a product, Voyager, that has potential use in some DCI instances, though Gunning made it clear that no one should jump to the conclusion that BT is considering the deployment of Voyager, a white box transponder and routing solution, for that particular application. (See Voyager Trial 'Very Cool' for Telia Carrier and Facebook, TIP Splash Some Open Sauce on Optical Networking.)
In many ways, BT's interest in TIP developments around DCI are related to the operational and management practices (including DevOps) that would come with the introduction of TIP technology into a commercial wide area communications network.
For more on TIP, see:
- How Much Will 5G Cost? No One Has a Clue
- Facebook's TIP Seizes vRAN Initiative From 3GPP
- Startup Could Replace Ericsson, Says Orange
- Facebook Takes TIP in New Direction as Investors Doubt Open Source Payback
- Open Sores: Are Telcos on a Collision Course With Vendors?
- Telcos Digging In on Open Source NFV
— Ray Le Maistre, , International Group Editor, Light Reading