Telecom Timeout

Sep 10 2009   3:47PM GMT

New AT&T vendor strategy launches massive procurement process change

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

AT&T is changing the traditional procurement process for network equipment and software solutions with its new Domain Supplier program, and as a result, some chosen vendors will be responsible for a lot more than their own products.

We’ve called this concept “procurement zones,” but no matter what the name, AT&T’s new procurement strategy will revolutionize how the company sources technology for its networks. AT&T’s goal is to make sure it has the best end-to-end technologies in place.

According to the company, each domain will have two suppliers that have been pre-qualified by AT&T. Those selected suppliers could work with AT&T on solutions for a set multi-year period, which puts other vendors at risk of losing business, unless they find their way into the domain vendor’s solution ecosystem as a partner.

pThe blog mill says traditional telecom networking and operations organizations haven’t been thrilled with the change because they want to choose the best technology for the job, not restrict the number of suppliers they can use. But AT&T CTO John Donovan (not a career Bell employee) is backing the idea.

AT&T hasn’t said how many domains it will have, although initial estimates were 14. The company has also said that some of the chosen have been notified, but that was the end of that discussion.

With a domain system, domain winners will have more skin in the game than just selling and delivering products. AT&T has it in mind for suppliers to be responsible for integration, testing and support for end-to-end solutions.

Some winner’s announcements have started rolling in. Ericsson said it has been chosen as one of AT&T’s two supplier vendors for wireline access, which includes technologies such as IP/DSLAM and FTTx. We’re waiting to see if some of the usual suspects come next: Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Microsoft, Ciena or Huawei.

In terms of the wireline access domain, Ericsson has already announced that Adtran will be its partner for remote DSLAM products. And so the supply chain reorganizes.

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