Alcatel-Lucent reprieved in last-ditch switch deal

Telecom deal prompts Alcatel-Lucent to seek injunction against Juniper Networks

Alcatel-Lucent has narrowly avoided losing part of its network management and support services contract with Telecom, after a last minute agreement at the end of 2009 saw a reseller contract between Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper Networks extended.

The agreement was the subject of a failed High Court bid by Alcatel-Lucent late last year to win an injunction against Juniper.

The contract was to expire at the end of December, but Alcatel-Lucent argued that the expressed expiry date of December 31 2009 was a mistake, and should have been December 31 2011, the same date as the expiry of Alcatel-Lucent’s contract with Telecom.

The dispute has its origins in Alcatel’s acquisition of Lucent Technologies in 2006, which altered the relationship between Juniper and Lucent.

The two telecomms gear suppliers had a global reseller agreement, signed in 2003, covering countries where they partnered.

However, with the buy of Lucent by Alcatel, which Juniper considered to be a competitor, the nature of the relationship between Juniper and Lucent changed.

In 2008 Juniper ended the global reseller agreement with Lucent. However, certain countries, including New Zealand, were exempted from the termination of the contract.

The continuation of the relationship in New Zealand was set to end as of December 31 2009, but Alcatel-Lucent went to court here and called upon dispute resolution provisions in the global reseller agreement in order to get the termination date changed to December 31 2011, which is the same date its own contract with Telecom expires.

Alcatel-Lucent sought an interim injunction late last year in order to keep the contract running after December 31 2009, until the dispute over the expiry date was resolved.

In a judgment at the High Court in Wellington on December 1, Justice Clifford declined to grant an injunction on several grounds including that New Zealand wasn’t the correct jurisdiction for such disputes to be heard.

It was ruled that the wording of the global reseller agreement between Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper stated that US law was to govern such matters.

Telecom, in anticipation of being unable to source Juniper equipment and services if Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent didn’t resolve the issue, issued an request for proposal (RFP) last year, seeking alternative suppliers of Juniper gear.

However, says Telecom spokesman Ian Bonnar, Alcatel-Lucent continues to support Telecom’s Juniper equipment.

“We issued the RFP as Alcatel-Lucent’s reseller and support agreement was about to expire, but Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper have since agreed to an extension.”

Alcatel-Lucent NZ spokesperson Jenna Parker told Computerworld “I can confirm that Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper Networks have agreed to an extension to the reseller contract for Alcatel-Lucent’s support of Telecom NZ’s Juniper equipment. We are unable to disclose specific terms related to any of our customer contracts.”

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