Marconi wins multi-billion pound Optical Network Contract

Johannesburg, 27 Jul 2000
Read time 2min 10sec

Marconi this week announced that it has been selected by BT (British Telecommunications Plc) as a key strategic technology partner to realise its vision of building Europe`s most advanced all optical network.

"This announcement demonstrates Marconi^1s world leading position in advanced optical networking and in DWDM in particular," Marconi Communications South Africa^1s Chief Executive, Koos Vorster, commented. "Our optical networks solutions are designed to provide a smooth introduction of advanced photonics, delivering massively increased broadband capacity under the same management system as existing (SDH) networks, with no interruption to customer service levels or management processes."

With the explosive growth in demand for bandwidth, the five year contract is estimated by Marconi to be worth more than lb2 billion and is for the supply of Optical Networking and new high performance SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) equipment, and related services. Marconi will build a complete next generation Optical Network providing their full range of SmartPhotoniX DWDM products. Marconi was also selected as the sole supplier to extend BT^1s existing core SDH network which will continue to carry growth in traffic at lower bandwidths (<155Mbit/s).

"This contract is a great endorsement of Marconi^1s solutions to the challenges of network transformation necessary for operators who are going to lead in the internet age," said Vorster.

More than 800 Marconi staff are already working on network design, project management and field force delivery and integration for the BT project, which will create an optical network for the rest of Europe to follow.

Welcoming the landmark, Paul Reynolds of BT said "This all new Optical Broadband Network will be a key differentiator for BT in terms of both capacity and flexibility. By focusing investment in this area, BT is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining its market and technical leadership in this key growth area. Marconi^1s extensive optical network product range, its ability to provide solutions, together with its service and support capabilities, have clearly differentiated them in our selection process and will be vital to us as we move forward together".

Marconi plc is a global communications and IT company, with 49,000 employees world-wide and sales in over 100 countries. It supplies advanced communications solutions and the key technologies and services for the Internet.


The new BT optical network will be based on Marconi^1s 2nd generation photonics equipment, mainly its remotely configurable Optical Add/Drop multiplexer - the PMA 32 and its new DWDM line systems, the PLT40/80 family. Optical cross-connects are also included. Marconi will also be supplying its new high-speed SDH products, the MSH 64 (10 Gbit/s Add/Drop multiplexers) and the MSH 256, the 40 Gbit/s version, plus its current range of SDH multiplexers, line systems and Cross-connects. All products will be managed by Marconi`s integrated Optical/SDH management system, the MV38.

The DWDM is all optically based and can carry much higher capacity - future systems will carry in excess of 1 terrabit/s of information. The DWDM systems offered to BT for roll-out can carry up to 800 Gbit/s down a single pair of optical fibres. The SDH systems are electrically based with optical transmission through the network, these systems can carry up to 40 Gbit/s.

Most of the systems will be manufactured in the UK or in Italy. The final systems integration and test will all be carried out at Marconi`s new optical systems manufacture and test facility in Coventry, UK.

It is likely that the contract win will mean an expansion in Marconi`s Photonics production facility in Coventry and will create jobs in its other main plants in Liverpool and Italy and in the research facilities in Coventry, Nottingham, Stratford, Cambridge and Italy.

BT^1s first customers will go live in April 2001 after full integration and testing with the current network. Services to be delivered over the new network will include a multitude of high bandwidth circuits and services, including ISP (Internet Service Provider) and new operator interconnect, high bandwidth IP based private circuits and ATM traffic. The vast majority of BT^1s services will be carried over this network, which will deliver voice, data, and video services at higher speeds and with greater quality.

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