BT Sets Out 21CN Agenda for resellers

In the week that has seen 90% of Comms Business Magazine readers express concern over the amount of information forthcoming from BT regarding their next generation network (21CN program) the company is sitting behind a new channel initiative to address concerns.

An industry-wide education programme for UK resellers has been set up to provide information, help and support around the introduction of BT’s next generation network (NGN). At the end of 2006, BT started upgrading customers from its existing network to an NGN. This network upgrade will run through to 2011 and will involve the migration of around 30 million UK customer lines. It is the largest, most advanced network transformation of its kind taking place anywhere in the world. When completed, the NGN will allow businesses and consumers to benefit from a new range of innovative, converged communications services.

The national reseller programme will be managed by switched-on, an independent, non-commercial, public information campaign aimed at advising consumers and small and medium sized businesses around BT’s process for upgrading customer’s phone, broadband and ISDN services to its next generation network.

Customers of resellers up and down the country will be affected by the upgrade to the new network. Hundreds of reseller organisations sell and support products that operate over BT-provided lines, or have business customers that use lines provided directly by BT or from another communications provider that relies on the BT network.

To help resellers understand how the upgrade may affect their customers, and to provide guidance around how to best prepare for this change, switched-on is hosting a series of regional reseller road shows. These are being held on the following dates:

12th September –The Metropole Hotel, Birmingham

21st September –The Radisson Hotel, London

27th September – The Radisson Hotel, Edinburgh

By attending one of these events, resellers will receive:

An introduction to BT’s next generation programme.

Information and guidance around how this NGN will impact resellers.

An overview of the switched-on communications campaign.

An update on BT’s NGN testing programme, including a focus on interoperability testing for customer premises equipment such as telephone handsets, dial up and broadband modems, fax and answering machines, corporate switchboards and other devices.
An opportunity to ask questions and meet the experts.

Resellers can also obtain additional information, help and support via an ongoing series of conference calls on topics of interest, and regular newsletters in the reseller area of BT’s Consult21 website. To receive information about the NGN programme on a regular basis, as well as invitations to events, resellers can register using the following link:
http://switchedonuk.org/registration/customerregistration.aspx.

Commenting on the reseller awareness programme, Richard Bligh, Marketing Director, Gamma Telecom, said: “Everyone is going to be affected by BT’s next generation network and the key job for switched-on is to keep the whole communications ecosystem informed in a simple and clear way. Corporate customers will be informed directly by their service providers so it is the industry’s responsibility to make sure that the channel, as well as end-users, is fully educated.”

Michael Eagle, Trade Association Manager at the Federation of Communications Services (FCS), said: “The advent of next generation communications is a great opportunity for the competitive telecoms sector and will offer enhanced ability to create and deliver innovative services. However, it is crucial that communications providers and the wider industry, including the channel, are kept fully informed during the migration phase so that they can manage their customers effectively. Through industry initiatives such as switched-on, we can make sure that this is achieved.”