BT has signed a five-year deal with supplier Alcatel-Lucent for services supporting a faster rollout of its 21st Century Network.

The 21CN, which has a £10 billion (US$15.2 billion) budget, will be BT's new IP-based network, replacing the existing public switched telephone setup. It is aimed at speeding up times to market for new services, cutting costs, and creating an open application environment, BT has said.

Under the deal, Alcatel-Lucent, already one of seven suppliers on 21CN, will provide services and hardware to speed up network convergence and increase capacity. It will also aim to help deliver content more cost-effectively as BT makes video-rich services more widely available.

Aside from services, Alcatel-Lucent said the move also marked the "first time" a tier-one service provider is deploying its next generation edge router with new distributed architecture, putting management "closer to subscribers". The value of the deal was not disclosed.