BT to deliver 'next generation' communication services

BT has announced today that it is to deliver "the next generation of communications services" with its pilot for the switchover of voice calls to Internet Protocol-based network.

The 21CN programme, a multi-billion pound project, is designed to offer more cost-effective services by removing duplication in networks.

Specifically, it aims to update the current system to a single converged multi-service IP based network. The work will include increasing the bandwidth of services provided over the copper access network as well as the trials of fibre deployment.

From October 2004, BT will divert voice calls between these network nodes to the 21CN specific IP network, so calls will be carried using modern IP packet technology rather than the old-fashioned circuit switched technology used on most of the existing PSTN telephone network.

The switchover "will be seamless" from the customer's perspective and service quality will be the same or better than on PSTN, the company said.

The next stage of this pilot involves the installation of new equipment at 18 exchanges in South East London, Kent and East Anglia - which are connected to the network nodes in Cambridge and Woolwich. This equipment, known as multi service access nodes (MSANs), will carry voice and data services onto the core IP based network, initially for 1,000 customers by January 2005.

BT Wholesale chief executive Paul Reynolds said: "For customers, the end result will be a complete experience - one based on convenience and ease of use of all communications services including mobility, video, data services and voice."

He added: "We want to be absolutely clear that using IP technology in our network for our premium quality voice services is a gulf apart from the new budget voice over the internet services being launched almost daily by a wide range of providers.

"We believe we can provide these services over IP at the same or better than the high standards of quality and reliability people expect from the PSTN today. These calls are not going over the internet. They will be carried on our dedicated high capacity IP networks which also carry data and broadband services. Adopting IP as the common transport method is both cost efficient and facilitates technology, systems, product and service convergence."


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