What was meant to be the biggest, most prestigious networking tender ever in Australia has become something of a joke and a farce, according to some of the parties pitching for the deal and sources inside Telstra.

"Telstra's done some pretty screwy things in its time, but this is right at the top of the list," said one of Tabloid's sources.

The Data Mode Operations (DMO) tender was supposed to see the rollout of technology that would herald Telstra's entry into the brave new world of converged voice and data. The tender has seen the emerging big three - Cisco, Nortel and Lucent - lock horns, in what is sure to be a sign of things to come.

The deal, which is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even sees arch-rivals Cisco and Alcatel join forces, with Alcatel acting as integrator in the Cisco bid.

However, the tender process has dragged on and on, and according to some has degenerated into an exercise designed to simply screw down the suppliers on every last "cent per port".

Tabloid understands that consultancy A T Kearney has broken down the DMO tender into its various components and is kindly letting the suppliers know exactly where they stand. Not surprisingly, Telstra is ending up with price parity between vendors. After all, what else are you going to do when told you're 10 per cent more expensive than your competitor but match them?

What's more, Tabloid understands that instead of going to the one supplier, it will be broken down and given to a number of vendors and partners.

"It looks like they've said this is all too hard, let's give everyone a bit," the source said.

"I don't even really know what we're fighting for anymore," said another, who claimed that the fact that network management might be dropped out of the equation was a pretty good indication that Telstra had lost sight of the pictureOnly if you're Nortelby Sooty MasonA recent Tabloid report (June 9) suggested that a "veritable" troop of Nortel execs had defected to the dark side and joined the evil empire, Cisco. It appears sources inside Nortel do protest. They concede that Cisco has picked up a number of Nortel staffers, but claims that is to be expected when Cisco has offered a job to just about every Nortel exec in the building. The suggestion is that Cisco is worried that its dominant position in the industry is finally under threat and it is therefore doing everything it can to destabilise Nortel.

An example put forward is the Nortel engineer who was being aggressively targeted by Cisco. Instead, the person decided to hit out on his own and do a bit of consulting work. When he approached Cisco for some work as a consultant, the networking kingpin allegedly was quick to inform the solo-flyer that they were no longer interested now that he wasn't working for Nortel.

30 years on, Prince will stay

By Sandy Cremorne

IT veteran Tony Prince and his young bride Susan this week celebrated 30 years - of both marriage and living in Australia.

These days, the Princes operate a family business as a value-added computer system reseller in Sydney's downtown Leichhardt.

A few years back the proudly Aussie couple, with Aussie-born daughters Sarah and Amy in attendance, became Australian citizens. As Tony put it, "It occurred to me we had spent more of our life in Australia than back in England."

Three years ago, after a career in the corporate multinational IT world, they set up ComPlus Computers, which customers say has continued to exemplify the sort of service and friendliness people look for in the channel.

Never short of a comment on the challenges and trends of the computer biz, when Tabloid's photographer snapped this shot, Tony and Sue were completing final pre-delivery checks on a consignment of systems for one of their corporate clients.

"It's also a bit of a neighbourhood drop-in centre though," said Tony. "In between business customers, we're just as likely to be helping spritely young grandparents onto the Internet for their first time."

Congratulations from Tabloid Tony and Sue!

SCG! Where's that?

Avid North Melbourne - er, Kangaroos - fan and managing director of Melbourne-based corporate box shifter BCA, Andrew Carter, found himself in Sydney for the latest of the Roo boys' forays into Swan territory for a showdown with the AFL competition leaders from Perth, the West Coast Eagles.

Tabloid spies report that Carter wondered if all those famous Sydney taxi stories must be true, when after hailing a cab from the Observatory Hotel and informing the driver he was heading to the SCG, he was met with, "Where's that?"

Now Sydney may not have yet been completely overtaken by the great Australian game yet, but Tabloid wonders whether such a response would have been tolerated in the cricket season.

Carter is reported to have made it to the game on time, which much to his relief, saw a convincing win to the boys from Arden Street.

Hmm, seems to be a strong link between the Kangaroos and the IT business.

Movers and shakers . . .

As reported in the retail section (page 46), Harvey Norman stalwart Tony Gattari has decided to take his bargains through the checkout for the last time. Rumours about Gattari's next spree are abounding. But the man responsible for making the phrases retail juggernaut, battering ram and steamroller synonymous with Messrs Harvey and Norman's emporium is believed to be considering a career in television. Move over Tim Shaw?

Compaq's in-house deputy PR chick Bethany Poore has headed for the wide world, claiming she is off to London with nothing but her ticket. The adventure is expected to see her away for two years unless, as the penniless Poore put it, "I fail miserably and come home with my tail between my legs."

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