BT Wholesale will use its financial muscle to negotiate new contracts where suppliers are paid for helping the telco to cut costs.
The move is part of BT's plan to cut operational expenditure by 30 per cent - almost £2bn - over the next five years.
The company wants to offer suppliers a 'partnership' whereby a large part of the payment for equipment will be deferred, and will depend on savings that the technology creates for BT as a result of reducing staff or equipment accommodation costs.
Paul Reynolds, chief executive at BT Wholesale, explained that he wanted to move from buying equipment at an up-front price, to a model closer to that of the PC industry, where customers make purchases based on the total cost of ownership.
"Only some of these savings can come from squeezing out the fat in the system. The bulk needs to come from operating simpler, modern, reliable, hands-off networks," he said.
"The network design needs to achieve significantly lower total costs of operation and we have to invest in systems and networks to achieve it."
Reynolds maintained that savings can be made from demanding that suppliers help in reducing operational overheads.
"The key is vendor willingness to move to new business models. We intend to pay vendors on delivery of dramatically reduced operational costs in future," he explained.
Reynolds added that the new deal could mean that some vendors might not be able to stomach such changes, but pointed out that the "winners in this game will have strong long-term contracts".
Analysts believe that a lot of suppliers have used operational cost savings as a marketing tool in the past, and that BT has now forced their hand on the matter.
Nick Blades, director at analysts Schema, said that suppliers had to start delivering on their promises. But he warned that the type of deal under discussion is complicated to set up, especially if a lot of the cost savings are operational.
"If you are shipping a box that you say is going to save a lot of money on an ongoing basis, you would have to have a deep understanding of the way it was going to be used and a long-term relationship with the customer.
"You could then both come to some conclusion on how that performance was going to be measured."
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