Nortel has landed a major contract for its emerging networking technology called provider backbone transport (PBT) with British Telecom (BT).

BT also signed a contract with Siemens as part of its “21st Century Network” plan.

The PBT is an alternative form of delivering high-speed services through metro Ethernet technology over existing copper infrastructure.

The networking Web news site Light Reading estimates the contract is worth “tens of millions of dollars.” Neither BT nor Nortel disclosed details.

“The news is significant in that it confirms PBT as a carrier Ethernet technology to be taken seriously by advocates, opponents, and potential users alike,” Light Reading reported. “PBT is a new and disruptive alternative” to existing technology known as MPLS, or multi-protocol label switching.

Mike Zafirovski, Nortel’s chief executive officer, has committed Nortel to new and emerging technologies in which Nortel has a chance to win market share.

"Today’s announcement marks a significant industry turning point," Zafirovski said in a statement. "BT is using Ethernet technology in a completely new way to provide an answer to the challenge of simplifying network management, redefining service quality and reducing costs.”

Nortel is among the pioneers in PBT technology.