The Plessey Co Plc is changing its strategy in order to become a systems integrator and turnkey supplier of public and private networking systems. Director of Plessey Telecommunications David Dey says that the company will buy in some 40% of the components needed for an entire network system on an OEM basis, or co-develop them […]
The Plessey Co Plc is changing its strategy in order to become a systems integrator and turnkey supplier of public and private networking systems. Director of Plessey Telecommunications David Dey says that the company will buy in some 40% of the components needed for an entire network system on an OEM basis, or co-develop them in conjunction with other companies, or obtain them by acquisition. The other 60% will come from Plessey itself, but the move marks a change in the company’s approach, which has hitherto been to develop internally substantially all the products it sells.The combination of the general shortage of resources and the fact that nobody is really clear about what equipment they really need over the next five years, as opposed to what is being pushed at them is a significant problem for suppliers, says Dey. That’s why partnerships will abound. Plessey is now equipped with basic switching capacity in the form of the System X public exchange and its ISDX PABX. The key developments in future for networking will come in overlay networks, special networks with, for example, fibre optic switching capabilities, and network management, says Dey. The telecoms world is now a world of software development, which is where the highest risks are, and as in the aerospace world, you will see companies joining forces on development of one product and competing head on with others. Plessey has already set up a joint relationship with Telit, formerly Italtel, in Italy for joint development of new PABX equipment, and the two will also market each other’s telephone equipment in their home markets. Telit will sell Plessey’s DKS keysystem, which is sold exclusively in the UK by British Telecom as the Octara. Plessey expects to sign a similar deal with Jeumont-Schneider of France, which Dey claims uses many of the same microprocessors, software and develoment tools as Plessey. GTE Telenet There are also ongoing discussions with four or five other companies, according to Dey. Some of these collaborations will have bearings on the public switching side. The company will also take similar actions to get its US arm Stromberg Carlson into the same integrated networking market with integrated voice and data. One option is to bolt onto Stromberg’s DCO medium-sized public exchange Plessey’s own packet switch, called the 2500. Managing director of Plessey Data Commmunications Roy Lawson said last year that one of the Bell operating companies with which it is in negotiations, is looking at the integrated product. That option is still open but Plessey is also looking at using US Sprint Communications’ data communications technology. US Sprint, a joint venture between United Telecommunications and GTE Sprint, now incorporates the GTE Telenet public packet-switched network opeerator, whose products Plessey distributes in the UK. There is a widespread view that that mergers and withdrawals from the market are inevitable in the large-scale public exchange business over the next two or three years as the giants like AT&T, Siemens and Alcatel come to dominate. However Dey believes that most if not all of the public switch manufacturers now in the market will still be there in 10 years time, but all of them will be swapping partners for different projects.