Telecom Developpement selects preferred sdh supplier

Sept. 1, 1997

Telecom Developpement selects preferred sdh supplier

By EDWARD HARROFF

Alcatel Alsthom, in Paris, has been awarded the frame contract for the next phase of expansion of Telecom Developpement`s (TD`s) Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (sdh) long-distance network. This deal is worth more than FF1 billion (approximately US$167 million) and runs from 1997 to 2002. Alcatel will provide transmission and switching systems on a turnkey basis, which includes project management and system integration. Alcatel`s subsidiary, Cegelec, will supply the required energy and shelters.

Charles Rozmaryn, president of TD, says Alcatel survived a rigorous review process. "We started with two separate requests for quotations and used two independent decision-making processes that reviewed several offers from global infrastructure suppliers for switching and transmission," he explains. TD chose Alcatel for its knowledge of the French transmission market and its experience with Synchronous Optical Network/sdh worldwide. The fact that Alcatel had already supplied sdh transmission systems to TD, based on a 1996 contract, also was a key consideration. Alcatel won the contract over competitive bids from several major suppliers, including Nortel, Siemens, nec, and Lucent Technologies.

The current phase of network expansion will complete TD`s backbone fiber network with 11 sdh sub-rings--3 in Paris and 8 in the French provinces (see figure). The rings will feature up to 2.4-Gbit/sec capacity and use 10 Alcatel 1000 E10 transit switches as well as 1354 RM/1354 EM network management application software. The first equipment deployment will be between Paris and Lyon, followed by implementation in such major cities as Lille, Rennes, Perpignan, and Strasbourg. The network will offer bandwidth from VC.12 (E1 at 2.048 Mbits/sec) to stm-1 (155 Mbits/sec).

The contract represents a milestone for Alcatel Alsthom. The company won both the transmission and switch business of an alternative carrier that will need to continue major investments in its sdh long-distance network at a pace of more than FF1 billion (approximately US$167 million) per year until year 2000.

Rozmaryn illustrates this point in his description of the necessity to build infrastructure quickly during the near-term. "Our investment in this network equipment is just a minor portion [20% to 30%] of the overall financial commitment," he explains. "We are using fiber-optic cable provided by sncf, renting lines from French turnpike operators, and adding fiber-optic cables to complete our 11 sub-rings. We have inherited fiber-optic cables that range from a single pair to 32-fiber pairs. In the near-term, TD needs to replace the older fiber-optic cable that was laid by sncf."

Having sdh capability is key to the company`s plans. "TD is committed to using high-capacity fiber-optic ring equipment with sdh technology because today this support is the most economical. It permits the highest bandwidth with the lowest operating cost and best transport quality," according to Rozmaryn. "We can also use central management of our network that helps us lower our technical support cost. We will exploit future technology enhancements, such as wavelength-division multiplexing and newer fiber-optic cables, to grow our network capacity as our traffic grows."

Fiber is competitive

As previously reported (see Lightwave, July 1997, page 1), TD resulted from a partnership between the French state-owned railway, sncf, and the second-largest French telecommunications group, Compagnie Generale des Eaux (cge) and its subsidiary, Cegetel. The company intends to build on the advantages of its advanced infra-structure. Its all-fiber-optic network will grow from 9000 to 11,000 km, thus making TD`s long-distance network the largest in France after that of France Telecom.

The network is scheduled for service in early 1998 (the eve of French telecommunications deregulation). One of every two major French-based enterprises will be within 500 m of the TD long-distance network. TD`s network will have 19 direct connections into the local loops of its principal rival, France Telecom, of which Rozmaryn was formerly general director.

"Our strategy is not to concentrate on serving our internal sncf customers," says Rozmaryn. "We will move quickly into the open market and challenge France Telecom for the deregulated market. For TD`s commercial success, we must focus on providing quality services to customers starting in 1998 before other alternative carriers appear."

sncf and cge-Cegetel have created a two-sided organization for TD. sncf will handle the creation, management, and deployment of the national sdh network via TD. Two sales companies controlled by Cegetel will offer a full range of deregulated telecommunications services to corporate accounts and to mass-market clientele. With the objective of becoming a long-distance "carrier`s carrier," TD aims to reach FF4 billion (US$667 million) in revenues by 2003. This would represent approximately 15% of the French carrier market.

Cegetel`s international partners (mci/bt, sbc Communications, Vodafone, and Mannesmann) will feed cross-border traffic into the TD network. Of course, 40% of TD`s revenue will be generated from servicing the internal traffic requirements of sncf and cge. q

Edward Harroff writes on telecommunications issues from Bellevue, Switzerland.

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