Friday, September 08, 2006

BT 21 CN - UK pilot, Cardiff

Press release | DC06-456 | September 4, 2006

BT announces details of first live customer upgrades to 21st century network in Cardiff

BT today announced details of the first steps it will take to transition customers in the UK to its 21st century network (21CN). This is a new secure and intelligent communications infrastructure that will deliver existing and future services designed to make people’s lives more productive and businesses more efficient. BT believes 21CN will have as significant an impact on the way people communicate as the arrival of motorways had on road travel in the late 20th century, and will make communications easier, faster and better for voice, data or video services.

Starting in late November this year, BT, working closely with other communications providers, will begin the planned upgrade of customers and their voice and broadband services, in Cardiff and the surrounding area.

Customers will not have to do anything for their lines to be upgraded. Telephone numbers will not change and, as all work will be carried out in BT’s telephone exchanges, no roads will have to be dug up to deliver the upgrade.

The first stage of the new network will be delivered in three phases, increasing in scale with each phase. Phase one, to run from November this year until March 2007, will see the upgrade of voice services to some 10 percent of customer lines in Cardiff and the surrounding area. Phase two, from April to mid May 2007, will deliver a further 10 percent of upgraded lines.

By the end of Phase 3 in the summer of 2007, BT will have upgraded all 350,000 customer lines. 90,000 of these lines also support broadband and ISDN2 and ISDN30 services. Private circuit-based services, which typically support business-critical corporate applications, will not be migrated on to the new network until much later in the programme.

“Years of planning, testing and development will culminate in South Wales in three months when we start the exciting process of bringing the world’s most advanced national communications infrastructure to everyone the UK.

“This is a world leading programme that will provide customers with a radically improved experience and new products and services faster.” said Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale and BT Board sponsor for the 21CN programme. “21st Century Network is an unprecedented programme of cooperation right across the communications industry and a world’s first for the UK.”

Huw Saunders, of Kingston Communications, speaking as Industry co-chair of the Consult21 Steering Board, said: "Next generation networks will play a fundamental role in how we will all communicate and do business in the future. As an industry, we've participated in the development and design of BT's programme to ensure that it takes into account the needs of everyone, regardless of which communications provider they choose to take services from. What happens in Cardiff in a few short months is only the beginning of the journey."

At the end of the final stage of the Cardiff upgrade, BT and other communications providers will begin an in-depth review before moving to the planned national upgrade of all remaining customers across the UK, some 30 million lines supported from over 5,500 telephone exchanges, from January 2008.

BT also announced today that it has agreed with industry to implement a single communications programme designed to inform all consumers and single site small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the upgrade programme, regardless of who their service provider or providers are. This programme will let them know when the migration to 21CN will happen in their area, how it will be done and what it means for them. Further details of this programme will be announced in October.

Corporate customers will receive more detailed communications directly from their communications providers, including the comprehensive testing regime for customer equipment which is already well underway.

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