BT announces 21CN suppliers

April 28, 2005 London, UK -- BT today announced selection of its preferred suppliers for its all-IP 21st Century Network (21CN) network transformation program, toward which the carrier expects to invest up to £10 billion over the next five years. According to the carrier, the selection announcement culminates a two year competitive process of discussions and negotiations with over 300 potential technology suppliers from around the world.

April 28, 2005 London, UK -- BT today announced selection of its preferred suppliers for its all-IP 21st Century Network (21CN) network transformation program, toward which the carrier expects to invest up to £10 billion over the next five years. According to the carrier, the selection announcement culminates a two year competitive process of discussions and negotiations with over 300 potential technology suppliers from around the world.

Eight preferred suppliers have been chosen to work with the carrier in implementing what it calls the 21CN's five strategic domains:

1. Fujitsu and Huawei have been selected to supply multi-service access node (MSAN) aggregation equipment for the network's "access domain," which will link the carrier's existing access network to its core, IP-based 21CN. According to Fujitsu, its GeoStream Access Gateway platform has consistently evolved in line with BT's MSAN strategy. For its part, Huawei expects to manufacture, supply, and install MSAN components and transmission equipment for the network.

2. Alcatel, Cisco, and Siemens have been selected to supply the network's "metro nodes," providing routing and signaling functions for voice, data, and video services. To meet Quality of Service and multi-service edge routing requirements for the 21CN's range of services, Alcatel's 7750 Service Router and the 5620 Service Aware manager were selected. According to the company, the combination will enable BT to meet consumer expectations as the carrier transitions to an all IP environment. According to a press release, Cisco supported its bid in the 21CN program with a significant investment in facilities, equipment, and staff related to the deployment of its Internet Protocol Next Generation Network (IP NGN) platform. The company says its IP NGN vision is closely aligned with the carrier's plan to achieve IP network convergence through the 21CN program. Cisco expects its Carrier Routing System-1 family and IOS XR Operating System to be key enablers of the carrier's network transformation. For its part, Siemens says it will assume responsibility for zones of 21CN architecture including Carrier Ethernet products, IP routers, network technical support, and initial conformance testing of multiple vendors' equipment, prior to integration into the network.

3. Cisco, Lucent, and Juniper Networks have been selected to supply large scale router equipment for the network's "core nodes," providing high capacity connections among metro nodes, with MPLS services including Ethernet, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), carrier VPN, and IP VPN. Lucent will also provide network integration, deployment, and maintenance support.

4. Ericsson has been selected to supply the network's "i-node domain." The carrier says this domain is where service execution functionality, i.e. the intelligence that controls services, resides. According to the carrier, in the context of the 21CN program, this domain includes soft switches, as well as network intelligence and bandwidth management capabilities. According to a press release, Ericsson's Telephony Softswitch is set to play a key role in this domain.

5. Ciena and Huawei have been selected to supply the network's "transmission domain," providing optical electronics necessary to convert high capacity signals carried among MSANs, metro, and core nodes. The carrier notes that much of the fiber infrastructure included in this domain is already in place. According to a press release, under terms of a multi-year agreement, the carrier plans to deploy Ciena's optical switching and transmission and Ethernet transport platforms to enable network convergence and accelerate service delivery. Ciena says its platforms are designed to reduce network complexity and the costs associated with service fulfillment, and will help to enable a network architecture designed with significantly fewer network elements.

According to the carrier, its selection of preferred suppliers will allow dozens of subcontractors and investors to become involved in delivering its 21CN program.

"21CN is a key infrastructure that will fuel the UK economy and provide a flexible way for consumers to use new services. The selection of the preferred suppliers is an incredibly important building block towards that vision," affirms Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale. "21CN will also radically reduce BT's cost base, with identified savings of around one billion pounds a year."

"The capability that BT is putting in place through this investment in 21CN is unequalled anywhere in the world," contends Matt Bross, BT Group's chief technology officer. "It will enable us to introduce new services at a speed that is simply impossible today."

Commercial and contractual agreements related to the selections are expected to conclude this summer.

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