UK VoIP firm lands major deal

Sir Terry Matthews' latest venture has landed a deal with Marconi that could give it a juicy slice of BT's 21st Century Network pie

Newport Networks, the British voice over IP (VoIP) equipment maker which floated on the stock market earlier this year, has won significant support from Marconi that could give it a profitable toehold in a major upgrading of the UK's telecommunication infrastructure.

Marconi announced on Thursday that it will use Newport's Session Border Controller (SBC) as part of its SoftSwitch platform, which lets telcos support Internet telephony across their networks.

The deal could prove extremely profitable to Newport because BT is currently trialling the Marconi SoftSwitch product as part of an ambitious multi-billion-pound project to upgrade its network to IP.

This 21st Century Network project will be worth billions of pounds to the IT and telecommunications, with BT expected to commit most of its £3bn annual budget for capital expenditure between 2004 and 2009 to it.

Sir Terry Matthews, co-founder of Newport Networks and the technology entrepreneur who became Wales' first billionaire, wouldn't be drawn on Newport's chances of cashing in on the 21st Century Network project but indicated that the deal with Marconi was a landmark for the company.

"I'm pleased that BT has committed itself to a timeline for its move to an all-IP network, making it the first such telco to do so, and I'm pleased BT is testing Marconi's SoftSwitch system. Newport's deal with Marconi bodes well for us," Sir Terry told ZDNet UK.

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