Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First customers go live on BT's 21st century network

Press Release | 28 November, 2006

BT made communications history today with the transfer of the first customer lines to its 21st Century Network (21CN), the world’s most advanced next generation network. As planned, BT has started to move customers in the village of Wick, near Cardiff, to the next generation infrastructure. The upgrade, which took place without the need for an engineer visit, new telephone, or a new telephone number, is part of the first phase of the national roll-out of 21CN.

21CN will bring a range of benefits to businesses and consumers over years to come. New voice, data, broadband and multimedia services will be delivered quicker and cheaper than before, including faster broadband. 21CN will also give customers more control over the way they use their services.

The migration of the first customers to 21CN is a landmark event in BT’s next generation network programme. To reach this important milestone BT has re-built around ten per cent of the UK’s core national communications infrastructure, installed 21CN equipment at over 100 sites across the UK, and laid more than 2,300 kilometres of new fibre optic cable in South Wales. BT has also invested more than 1,500 man years in developing new IT systems to support the new network.

Reaching this major milestone has also been the result of pan-industry collaboration through Consult21, a forum which provides a regular open platform for all communications providers to understand and influence BT’s plans for 21CN. This includes the details of the roll-out programme, as it affects hundreds of communications providers across the UK.

Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale and BT board sponsor for the 21CN programme said, “Today marks a symbolic and momentous occasion for BT, the communications industry and for the UK as 21CN, over three years in the making, starts to become real for customers. Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call 130 years ago – we are also making history with the first live UK customer calls using a carrier class, all IP network. Years of research and development, network build and design, rigorous trials and testing, together with open collaboration with the communications industry have culminated in this historic moment. A network transformation on this scale has not been attempted anywhere else in the world – it’s happening now in South Wales, and the rest of the UK will follow over the next few years.”

Following the first phase of customer migrations in Wick, customers in Cardiff, Bridgend and the Pontypridd area will be the next to have their voice and broadband services transferred to 21CN. By the end of summer 2007, around 350,000 customer lines in South Wales are expected to have been migrated to the new infrastructure.

When complete, 21CN will deliver existing and new converged communications services to homes and businesses nationwide. BT believes that the underlying network and the new services it will create, including the first nationwide wholesale broadband service offering planned speeds of up to 24 Mbit/s, will make converged communications faster, more efficient and more cost effective than ever before.

BT connects first customers to all-IP network

BT connects first customers to all-IP network
BT's next-gen telecom network goes live in ambitious move to offer consumers 'triple play' services

By John Blau, IDG News Service
November 28, 2006

More than 100 consumers in the U.K. village of Wick are among the first customers to be connected to BT Group's next-generation telecommunications network, which went live Tuesday.

The BT 21st Century Network, dubbed 21CN, is one of the most ambitious network overhauls of its kind in the world. Instead of using traditional circuit-switched systems to transport phone calls, the U.K. operator is switching its entire networking infrastructure to IP (Internet Protocol) technology.

The move to an all-IP network will allow BT to offer consumers and businesses "triple-play" voice, data and video services over a single ADSL2+ (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband connection, at speeds up to 24Mbps. Among the new services supported by the network are VOIP (voice over IP) and IPTV.

At the same time, the move will allow the operator to lower operating costs. It expects to save around £1 billion ($1.9 billion) per year as a result of the network overhaul. Total cost of the overhaul is estimated at £10 billion.

By mid-2007, BT plans to have switched more than 350,000 lines to its next-generation network, according BT spokeswoman Anna Easton. "We aim to use the first phase as a learning period," she said.

The operator aims to have "the bulk" of the country's 30 million lines converted to IP by the end the decade, Easton said.

As part of its carrier wholesale operations, BT will resell capacity over its new network to around 400 telecommunications service providers in the country.

21CN is an advanced IP broadband network system based on intelligent systems, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which allows the service provider to control the communications activity to meet a customer's requirements, and MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching), which enables the efficient designation and routing of IP traffic flows.

BT launched its 21CN project around three years ago, according to Easton.

Jump-Starting the New Economy with Fiber

By Masha Zager
Oct 23, 2006, 12:26

Once a country of coal mines and steel mills, Wales is now a high-tech hub. Fiber optic connectivity is key to the country’s transformation.

Two generations ago, Wales was famous for its coal mines and its steel mills – an economy dominated by heavy industry and a history of labor unrest. Today, this region of the United Kingdom is a high-tech hub, with companies in the vanguard of software design, digital media, opto-electronics, telematics, automotive design, bioscience and many other advanced technologies.

How did the country make the transition from the old economy to the new one? By leveraging assets left from the old economy, creating new ones, and bringing them all together in new ways. Fiber optic networks are an important piece of the puzzle.

Old Assets, New Purposes

One legacy of the old heavy-industry economy – because steel mills use a lot of energy – was a high-capacity electrical grid in South Wales. The abundant supply of electricity made the area attractive for large data centers, which also have enormous requirements for electricity. The existence of data centers then became a driver for further investment.

Another legacy was the fiber optic infrastructure that had been built by the British military. Much of this fiber infrastructure was eventually decommissioned by the military, and the dark fiber became available for civilian use.

A final important asset was the educational system. Wales is home to a major national university and a number of smaller educational institutions, some of which have outstanding scientific research facilities. Currently about a quarter of the students graduate in high-tech disciplines.

A digital media industry sprang up around Cardiff, the Welsh capital, in part because the area’s low rents were attractive to startup companies and in part because the Welsh-language television station located there had trained a pool of workers skilled at developing content that could be easily dubbed, like animation. (English-language television stations have never had to worry about exporting their content.) Web designers and facilities companies followed on the heels of the film and television producers.

Promoting Business Investment

The Welsh government has successully courted foreign investment with grants and other incentives, along with information about the country’s fiber optic lines, data centers, skilled workers and university research facilities. More than 200 North American companies, including Ford, General Electric and Dow Corning now operate in Wales.

But the government also focuses on developing homegrown high-tech companies. The 18 Centres of Excellence, or university-industry partnerships, have benefited local companies as well as multinationals, leading to breakthroughs in fields ranging from machine communications to radio wireless communications to bio-informatics.

Yet another strategy has been the creation of high-tech incubators where startups share access to advanced computing equipment, research facilities, high-speed networks and other infrastructure. The Technium incubator – the result of a partnership between the Welsh government, the University of Wales, the European Union, and private-sector companies – began with a single installation in 2001 and now includes nine facilities throughout Wales, with a dozen more planned. Each Technium focuses on a different sector – sustainable technologies or performance engineering, for example.

Early-stage digital media companies that aren't ready for the Technium environment benefit from the @Wales Digital Media Initiative, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Regional Development Fund. Entrepreneurs can set up shop in an @Wales facility with nothing except their entrepreneurial vision. They rent space, services and equipment – everything down to a desktop computer – at commercial discount rates, sometimes by piggybacking on government contracts. Specialists are available to give them advice about financing, marketing and other aspects of starting up a business.

Bringing Broadband to Business

To supply these high-tech companies with broadband, @Wales’ Intelligent Cities program bought up fiber connectivity that the military was decommissioning, aggregated it and made it available to companies in Southeast Wales at affordable prices.

“Media industry use is very peaky,” explains Evan Jones, the head of digital and incubation for @Wales. A film company might upload a huge video file for a news segment, and then not make any significant demands on the network for the next 24 hours. Because the companies aren't all using the network at the same time, they can share 100 Mbps of bandwidth without interfering with each other’s use.

One typical Intelligent Cities client is an animation company that sends successive drafts of animated videos to clients for review. Another client is Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, an arena for soccer games that is blanketed with wireless access, particularly in the press area. Press photographers and cameramen can send photos and video footage to their news organizations during and after soccer games, using the Intelligent Cities fiber for backhaul. “The amount of bandwidth needed is awesomely large,” Jones says. “Then the next day it’s near zero.”

Though the digital media industry uses by far the largest share of Intelligent Cities bandwidth, there are other clients that have similar needs for “bursty bandwidth” – for example, a radiologist who works remotely for a hospital in the United States, an arts organization that streams live performances to widely dispersed audiences and a plastics manufacturer that has to send and receive large CAD files.

To keep costs down, Intelligent Cities configured its fiber network with a central media server, as if it were an office LAN. With this setup, sending a file between two users of the network doesn’t require actually moving the file, only changing the permissions associated with it. This enables local users to “download” huge files instantaneously.

The success of Intelligent Cities led to a new project that began this year – FibreSpeed Wales. Because no private operators would bring broadband to industrial parks in less-populated North Wales, the Welsh government started the project itself, with partial funding from the European Union.

FibreSpeed Wales follows the public-private model that many U.S. municipalities have used successfully. Based on an RFP issued this spring, a vendor was selected to design and build high-speed fiber optic networks at North Wales’ 14 business parks. The government will then select a company to administer the networks on an open-access model, allowing any provider to offer Internet service with 10 Mbps symmetrical speeds or higher. The Welsh government is hoping that FibreSpeed Wales will provide the same economic benefits in the north of the country that the Intelligent Cities program has provided in the south.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

British Wi-Fi is sickening

[November 27, 2006] British Wi-Fi is sickening
Hotspot Hits
By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

November 27, 2006

Just as many schools start to enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi access, at least a few in England are afraid of it. Or, rather, the parents of the pupils are, according to the Times of London report from last week. Parents lobbied the headteacher at the Prebendal School in Chichester, West Sussex, to get rid of the Wi-Fi equipment, citing concerns for the health of children. The school did it, saying there were no studies to prove it was safe. Never mind that no studies show it unsafe, either. (They also said it didn’t work very well, anyway.) The same thing happened at Ysgol Pantycelyn, in Carmarthenshire. At Stowe School in Buckinghamshire west of London a teacher got sick after the network was installed in his classroom, prompting its removal. At least one woman in Stoke Newington told that she can tell whenever Wi-Fi is around her by how it makes her feel “exhausted, nauseous and sleepless.” The blow-back on blaming Wi-Fi for sniffles, migraines, and more in the country is so bad that the council in Norfolk is openly defending its £1.1 million Norfolk Open Link project meant to deliver free broadband to the masses against such attacks. Wi-Fi already blankets the city center, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the Norwich Science Park via 200 access points on lamp posts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ofcom- Technology Research and Development- Spectrum Access

Press Release


14 November 2006

Ofcom today published its second annual Technology Research and Development
Report which provides an overview of emerging technologies that have the
potential to make more efficient use of the radio spectrum.

Spectrum is a finite natural resource that underpins the operation of all forms
of broadcasting, fixed and wireless telecommunications as well as essential
services such as defence, transport, the emergency services and healthcare. New
and innovative technologies that make more efficient use of this valuable
resource benefit both consumers - with the introduction of new services - and
the economy.

Ofcom's Technology Research and Development programme is funded though the
Spectrum Efficiency Scheme via the Treasury. Ofcom estimates that emerging
technologies explored as a result of the research programme could generate up to
£6.5bn in revenues for the UK economy over the next 20 years.


One new technology that is highlighted in today's report is Dynamic Spectrum
Access, or DSA.

DSA would allow intelligent communication devices, such as mobile phones,
laptops or PDAs, to roam onto any available wireless network at any point in
time, rather than restricting service provision to just one network provider.

With a variety of different networks and providers to choose from, a
communications device could intelligently select the cheapest service for the
customer. DSA could also automatically select the network with the appropriate
service quality and bandwidth to match the service the customer wants to use,
whether it is a voice call, SMS messaging, browsing the internet or video

DSA technology would make efficient use of the spectrum by linking the supply of
spectrum with demand though an open and competitive marketplace for real time
access to spectrum.

DSA is underpinned by a technology that would allow network operators to
transmit pricing and service quality information to communication devices such
as mobile phones. Ofcom is leading the research into DSA and will conduct
further work on the technology and economic issues in the coming year. Based on
the initial research, Ofcom believes that the technology could be ready to
deploy in five to ten years' time.

Peter Ingram, Ofcom's Chief technology Officer, said: "Ofcom has a critical role
to play, backed by Treasury funding, to research and encourage innovation in the
next generation of wireless technology. New technologies that make efficient use
of the spectrum benefit both consumers and the UK economy as a whole."

For a full copy of the Technology Research and Development Report, go to:


Technology Research Programme 2005/06
Executive Summary

This report provides an overview of the technology research and development programme at Ofcom during 2005/06. It presents key findings and outlines the conclusions and implications that Ofcom has drawn from this work.

This is the second annual Technology Research Report. Ofcom publishes an overview of technology research and development on an annual basis to inform stakeholders of findings and to solicit feedback on both the results and the future direction of the programme.

While Ofcom is the regulator for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services, however this research programme is deliberately biased towards radio spectrum. This is because Ofcom has a unique role in managing the radio spectrum, which underpins the operation of broadcasting and wireless telecommunications systems. Most visions of the future foresee dramatic increases in the amount of information sent wirelessly; only by making better use of the radio spectrum can these visions be realised. By understanding potential future developments, Ofcom can determine how technologies and services might develop and shape regulatory policy accordingly.
Key findings

It is typical in many areas of technology, including wireless, for only a few developing technologies to succeed. Our key findings this year are consistent with this, suggesting that of the many new technologies that are currently the subject of research and development in industry and academia, we expect only a few to have a significant impact on the use of the spectrum in the next decade. The technologies which we have considered which could have a significant impact on the use of new spectrum are mesh networks and dynamic spectrum access. Those technologies we do not expect to have an impact in the short to medium term include cognitive radio and software defined radio.

In addition, we have studied a number of potential issues with liberalisation and found that they do not pose a significant problem. We have also highlighted mechanisms for improved spectrum efficiency in areas of the spectrum where liberalisation is not expected to apply in the near future.
New Technologies and Concepts

Ofcom has undertaken research into a number of new and emerging concepts and technologies in order to understand their potential, gauge whether regulatory change is needed and further their development where appropriate. From this work we have concluded that these are broadly split into two categories:

* Those which we see as emerging in a longer timescale, of at least 10 years or possibly not at all which might be due to remaining technical hurdles for which no solution is yet clear, or due to insufficiently strong business cases.
* Others which bear evident promise, and may have benefit within a 10 year timescale.

The former category includes technologies such as Cognitive Radio and Software Defined Radio. Research and development into these technologies continues and in some cases niche applications exist where the technologies are applied, however universal adoption or the case for it does not seem likely in the near future. It appears to Ofcom that additional regulatory measures to facilitate these technologies are unlikely to be fruitful at this stage.

In the latter group we have identified a number of technologies with promise and where we can take measures to facilitate and encourage an environment for innovative new services and applications to emerge. These include:

Dynamic Spectrum Access , a concept which could enable users to dynamically access required spectrum, allowing for example the cheapest selection to be made by a phone automatically, for whatever service is required at that time and place. Broadly it seems that it is business and regulatory issues, rather than technical issues that present barriers to the development of the concept. On the technical side it seems feasible to deploy such a concept in a 5 to 10 year timescale. The concept offers the possibility of providing a complementary means of wireless service delivery to those already established, offering the potential of providing the end user with greater choice.

Mesh networks , where we concluded last year that mesh has the potential to provide complementary coverage to existing cellular systems, for example:

* Extending hotspots to wider areas.
* Provision of broadband networks to rural communities.
* Enabling sensor networks which have the potential to bring significant benefits to UK society, for example in the transport and healthcare sectors.

Ofcom has supported the emergence of mesh networks by undertaking research which has provided insight into where the benefits from the technology are likely to emerge, dispelling some of commonly misunderstood statements about the technology, and by developing improved propagation models for services which will be based on mesh networks.

Convergence of networks and devices is a trend which is increasingly evident in emerging services, for example BT’s Fusion and Orange’s Unique, which enable seamless phone calls indoors and outdoors. Ofcom is facilitating such developments through improving the understanding of signal propagation from indoors to outdoors and vice versa. This will assist with a better understanding of the capability of outdoor wireless signals to propagate indoors and provide useful services, and to allow the introduction of new service deployments indoors whilst providing safeguards against interference.

Liberalisation of the radio spectrum is central to Ofcom’s vision of spectrum management. Benefits that might be accrued from the introduction of trading and liberalisation to the UK have been estimated to be around £1bn per year. Liberalisation is not without risk. Inappropriate reductions in restrictions on users of the radio spectrum, for example allowing complete freedom in the use a licensee makes of the radio spectrum, could result in significant harmful interference between users and a reduction in the economic value of the radio spectrum. Therefore, our research in this area has concentrated on providing increased certainty in the delivery of a liberalised trading environment to ensure the benefits are realised with the minimum risk. Areas we have addressed to deliver these safeguards are:

Fragmentation of the radio spectrum , which could potentially leave areas of the radio spectrum which are too small to be usefully used. Our work has concluded that fragmentation is not currently a significant problem, and it is unlikely to become so in the future in a liberalised trading environment. Furthermore, should fragmentation occur, technology has been identified that could make use of broadband services by aggregating these spectrum fragments.

Improving our understanding of the threat of interference from sources of unwanted emissions, such as electromagnetic compatibility, Ultra-Wideband and spurious emissions, where we have identified that current levels of interference generated are not likely to be harmful, and they are not likely to degrade our spectrum quality further. Adequate protection is offered through existing regulations.

Development of a generic radio modelling tool for liberalised spectrum and associated underpinning propagation research. Tools which Ofcom has used under the command and control regime for spectrum planning and assignment are not sufficient in a liberalised environment. A new regime of spectrum management requires a new tool that can assess interference and undertake spectrum planning and assignment between different services. Ofcom has commissioned work which has resulted in the development of such a tool. This will allow Ofcom to respond more rapidly to licensee requests to change the use they make of their spectrum, with a high degree of certainty that harmful interference will not be caused.

Improving certainty to encourage use of lightly used frequency bands. Higher frequencies tend to be more lightly used, primarily due to the less favourable propagation characteristics. For example, as UHF frequencies become increasingly congested, there is growing interest in the use of frequencies above 3 GHz, for mobile and broadcast purposes. Ofcom has underway development of accurate propagation models for these frequencies which will help to reduce risk in deploying services at these higher frequencies and also enable better spectrum management of these services in the future.
Enhancing spectrum efficiency in areas where liberalisation cannot help

There are areas of the radio spectrum where we have chosen not yet to adopt a liberalised regime. Work commissioned by Ofcom has resulted in a number of measures for improvement in these areas, including:

Better management and utilisation of licence exemption; where we have undertaken a review of the use of licence exemption, including where it should be used and how to utilise it most effectively; for example should politeness protocols be mandated and if so where? Is there a frequency above which all spectrum use should be licence exempt? Ofcom will be publishing a consultation on its strategy and recommendations as a result of this work early next year.

Improving satellite system efficiency ; where we have investigated the application of spatial diversity and concluded it is a cost effective means of utilising spectrum more efficiently in the short term.

Facilitating the move away from congested areas of the spectrum in fixed services, by proving the capability of Free Space Optics systems By undertaking work to prove the capabilities of these systems we have identified the applications where they might be used and reduced the barrier to service providers who might employ such technology for fixed services. This could enable a radically increased deployment of short range fixed links in underused spectrum.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

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