BT to miss 21st Century Network target

With negotiations with telecommunications vendors still ongoing, it appears that BT won't be able to announce the companies who will power its massive network upgrade as soon as hoped

BT looks likely to miss its own target for choosing the telecommunications firms whose equipment will power its next-generation IP-based network

Just last month, BT Wholesale chief executive Paul Reynolds told the 21st Century Communications World Forum that BT hoped to publish a list of vendors it has chosen to help build its 21st Century Network (21CN) before the end of this current financial year, which finishes on Thursday, 31 March.

But with time running out, a BT spokeswoman could only say on Wednesday that the tendering process was still "on track".

"We started with 300 companies, and we're down to a shortlist of 12," she said. "We're in detailed discussions at present, and will announce the results when they're completed."

It is understood that while BT would like to name its preferred suppliers this week, it cannot do so while contract terms are still being finalised.

21CN is a massive undertaking for BT, and will cost around £10bn over the next few years. Many telecoms equipment manufacturers are extremely keen to get a piece of the action, partly because it will put them in a strong position when other telcos around the world decide to upgrade their own networks.

Light Reading, a telecommunications news Web site, reported earlier this year that the BT's shortlist includes Alcatel, Cisco, Fujitsi, Huawei, Juniper, Marconi and Siemens. BT has insisted on total secrecy from all potential 21CN vendors.