BT’s 21CN heading for Wales

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Telecommunications giant BT will kick off the first step of its 21st century network programme in Cardiff later this year

Businesses and consumers living in Cardiff will be the first to benefit from BT’s£10 billion 21st century network (21CN).

But organisations may have to wait a little longer until their mission-critical applications are fully supported by the new IP-based network as BT says private, circuit-based services won’t be migrated to 21CN for some time.

The telco will start transitioning customers in the Cardiff area to its next-generation infrastructure, which promises to make voice, data and video communications faster and easier, from November this year in a three-phase approach.

By May next year, BT hopes to have upgraded 20 per cent of lines, with the aim of having migrated all 350,000 Cardiff-bound lines by the summer.

Once the Cardiff area project is finished, BT and its peers will conduct a review before commencing a national upgrade in 2008, which will touch 30 million lines and more than 5,000 telephone exchanges.

The communications giant is working with a consortium of partners on the project, including Ciena, Huawei, Lucent and Siemens, and has support from the rest of the industry because of its wider benefits.

“Next generation networks will play a fundamental role in how we will all communicate and do business in the future,” said Huw Saunders, Industry co-chair of the Consult21 Steering Board.

“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.”

In October, BT plans to launch a communications initiative to ensure people remain informed about the upgrade programme, what it means to them and when they can expect work to commence in their area.

“21st Century Network is an unprecedented programme of cooperation right across the communications industry and a world’s first for the UK,” said Paul Reynolds, BT Wholesale’s chief executive and board sponsor for the 21CN programme.

“This is a world leading programme that will provide customers with a radically improved experience and new products and services faster.”