BT Announces 21CN Trial Progress

BT has announced that three million customer calls have been successfully carried over an IP link in the latest phase of its 21st Century Network (21CN) trials.

The calls, diverted from BT’s PSTN network between exchanges in Cambridge and Woolwich, are being carried over a next generation link using IP technology. The trials have been conducted over the last six weeks using equipment from BT’s preferred suppliers for 21CN.

The majority of calls carried are live customer calls closely monitored by BT network managers at the company’s national network management centres at Cambridge, Oswestry and Ipswich. To date the peak level of simultaneous calls carried has been 2,500. As the trial progresses BT’s goal is to increase the number of calls carried over the IP link to reflect normal loading on a similar network path.

In the spring of 2006 BT expects to start trialling telephone and broadband services across the IP network connecting around 800 BT employees. This will involve the commissioning of multi-service access nodes (MSANs) – the access point into 21CN supporting voice, data and broadband – at up to 18 locations in the south-east of England. In addition the 21CN metro nodes at Cambridge and Woolwich will be upgraded with the installation of new media gateways which provide the routing for 21CN services. To carry out the necessary technology upgrades, the first phase of the current trial is due to be completed in early December.

Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, said: “This is a very exciting time for us – the 21CN program is moving from vision to reality with live calls being carried over the network. We’re building momentum. We have 2,000 BT people already working on the program. We have presented a proposal to industry outlining the phasing and geography for mass migration for all of the UK which we expect to have agreed in early 2006. As we put the core network links in place in preparation for the mass migration of customers in South Wales this time next year, the entire industry will gear up for a world first – doing away with the old PSTN network and moving to a new, all IP, network world.”

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