BT picks Marconi, shuns Nortel

British Telecommunications PLC (BT) will tap U.K.-based Marconi PLC to upgrade BT's U.K. core transmission network, deciding not to split the contract between Marconi and Nortel Networks Corp. as was previously planned.

Marconi is to be its supplier of next generation SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) and Optical DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplexing) equipment for the next five years, BT said in a phone interview with IDG News Service Tuesday.

"The contract is worth, I would say, 850 million pounds (US$1.25 billion) over the next five years. But that is not a definitive figure: it could certainly go up, or it could be less," a BT spokesman said.

Last July, Nortel announced that BT had contracted Nortel and Marconi to upgrade its core national network to an optical Internet system that would work over data and IP (Internet protocol) networks. [See "BT Taps Nortel, Marconi for US$5B IP Upgrade," July 25, 2000.]

At the time, Nortel speculated that the contract -- which was still subject to final approval -- would be $2 billion for Nortel over the next five years. "About $3 billion for Marconi and $2 billion for Nortel. I can tell you that we're each receiving about .5 billion up front to start," Nortel spokesman Simon Pope said in an interview with the IDG News Service last July.

The BT spokesman declined to outline why Nortel was dropped from the project, simply stating "it was better for BT in this instance to put the contract to Marconi."

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