January 30, 2011 — 18:07

BT has named the eight suppliers that will build its new network, which it calls 21CN, and which will cost the telco around £10bn, and take five years to build.

BT has said it will award contracts to Alcatel, Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Lucent and Siemens. Each vendor could walk away with as much as £1bn of revenue as a result.

But BT has snubbed its long term partner Marconi after a bitter bidding war with Ericsson ended with the British manufacturer losing out.

Marconi has since said it will have to shed 800 jobs to stay in business, and speculation has been rife that it will have to sell itself to another manufacturer to stay alive.

This month, journalists from editing service interview the decision maker for the 21st Century Network at BT, and Mike Parton, the embattled chief executive of Marconi (see pages 6–7).

January 28, 2011 — 13:06

That is the prediction of global analyst company Gartner, which has just finished hosting a corporate IT and comms summit in Barcelona.

Gartner, which is notably pro-IP telephony, said that in 2012, 80% of enterprise users would be connected to a telephone system which could support IP voice calls.

And the analyst group advocated that corporates named a person within their business to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the technology and the migration path the business might take to it.

Such a person should not be a telecoms manager, but rather a chief process officer or a chief comms officer, Gartner said, adding that some larger organisations had already appointed such a person.

“The integration of voice into business applications is essential, and to get there you need to talk about business value. Telecoms managers don’t always understand business value,” said Steve Blood, an enterprise-focused analyst at Gartner.

“To oversee IP telephony, you need someone to look at it at a strategic level, someone like a chief process or chief comms officer — someone who sits at board level.”

Blood said he thought PBXs would evolve in two stages.

The first, which many vendors offer now, is the IP-based PBX.

This might be pure IP, or a hybrid, which supports both TDM and IP, Blood said.

Most companies which carry IP voice have opted for a hybrid model, the analyst added, although there were significant deployments of PBXs in core networks, delivering call control remotely. One example is Abbey, the bank, which supports 750 branches over IP from one central PBX.

In the long term, PBXs based on SIP would emerge, leading to voice platforms merged with messaging, presence and video.

Siemens, with its Openscape software, Alcatel with its OmniTouch offering, and Nortel, with its Multimedia Communications Server, were already heading in that direction, Blood said.