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Rip and replace is such a long Huawei to go, UK telcos plead, citing 'blackouts' and 'billion pound' costs: Are Vodafone and BT playing 'Project Fear'?

Jellied Eel Silver badge

I have heard that the European based suppliers for equipment were not invited to tender for the next generation network. In addition to this, the Huawei equipment was half the price of the other selected vendor/competitor.

If you mean BT's 21CN, that was only half true. All the usual suspects were invited to tender. Problem was at that time, there were kind of 2 different vendor strategies. So Cisco & Juniper pushing their BFR core routers and IP (ok, MPLS). But the demand was shifting away from 'legacy' SDH to Ethernet.

So the problem was router vendors couldn't offer high speed/port density solutions. Cisco & Juniper's cost per Ethernet port was orders of magnitude more expensive, and with low port density, had the prospect of replacing old SDH 'Mux Mountains' with much more expensive router mountains. Both those vendors also shot themselves in the foot by a stubborn reluctance not to offer SP (Service Provider) features on their Ethernet switches.. Even though some of those switches at the time could be 'persuaded' to run IOS(SP). But switches cost less than routers, and vendors didn't want to cannibalise that market.

AFAIK there were some attempts to partner on bids, and I think Ciena was proposed to do the high speed & DWDM core... But that meant dual vendors, and less features/functionality than a single vendor solution, and again cost. So Huawei won because they offered core DWDM, routing/switching and EAN (Ethernet Access Network) in one solution. At the time, I was working on a similar project for another carrier, and we'd come to much the same conclusion.. The usual suspects couldn't offer Ethernet services at a price point the market was demanding. And thanks to BT (and others) feature demands, it pushed Huawei to develop better systems integration across their product line.

Irony is of course both Cisco and Juniper were instrumental in pushing tag switching, which became MPLS, then GMPLS, and failed miserably on execution. Because routers.. So as core speeds increased, their share of that market decreased because their BFRs weren't really needed. So now cores tend to end up as Huawei, Infinera etc packet/frame switched with routing as a service.. And that's a service that's increasingly virtualised and so can be run on servers, not routers. I think Deutsche Telecom was one of the first carriers to use *NIX boxes instead of 'routers'.

..this just shows that governments are incoherent in their understanding and strategy for technical services/products. The malaise in the west, will be its downfall in terms of competitiveness and future prosperity.

Indeed, although I blame the vendors complacency, or failure to understand market shifts. Carriers understood that routers made little point on an access network, ie 1 port facing customer, 1 port facing network, so where's the routing? Which is why router vendors aren't really in that market. Except sometimes under duress. I once had a customer who was very offended that we'd delivered a gigabit Ethernet service via fibre, but a competitor's presentation was via around 6U of tin. Customer was very put out that we didn't have a box on the fibre when there was no need for one.. And was why we could offer services at a much lower cost.

But most of that is/was less of a government problem than an industry one. Government's role is more to support a tech industry, not insert themelves into procurement programmes. Especially when it's something few politicians understand. Possible exception being Daniel Kawczynski, but then he was a sales chap..

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