CMA: Late 21CN Info is no Surprise

David Brunnen, Leader of the Network Services Group, Communications Management Association says that at CMA’s annual conference members were extremely worried about the lack of information about Operators’ NGN plans – especially BT’s 21CN.

“It took a full 6 months of lobbying but in July, in league with Ofcom, CMA members finally got to hear the Operators’ plans. Some of the UK’s largest comms customers heard, for the first time, about the network designs, interoperability and compatibility testing.

This led to the first joint Operator press release and publication of 21CN CPE test results. It also led directly to review meetings for CMA members scheduled through to next summer.

We should not be surprised at the late arrival of this customer focus. Investment in all-IP networks have been more driven by operational cost reductions than scope for new services. This focus has now changed. We now have a positive two-way dialogue – with Operators clearly appreciating the input they can get from their major customers.

The new challenge for the CMA is to extend this dialogue to more of the industry’s ecosystem. Future Focus Days will be able to include many more VAR’s, systems integrators and channel partners as we get closer to NGN roll-out programmes and the demise of the old PSTN.

We’re making a modest start on November 14th by including not only the Operators’ viewpoints but also some presentations from Cisco, Dimension Data, Telindus, Ovum and Cirpack. The unfamiliar name in this set, Cirpack, comes from France where unbundling has progressed much faster than in the UK. Cirpack’s softswitches underpin the success of ‘Free’ from the Iliad Group and, with the benefit of their experience, we’ll get a fresh perspective on new services for the enterprise customer.

Operators’ obsessions with IPTV, Triple Play and interactive games are largely driven by consumer models. Businesses, large or small, and most members of the CMA, are not concerned with playing anything. We need to know about interoperability, latency, quality of service, resilience and just how much, in this all-IP world, we should choose to do for ourselves or outsource to others. These ‘others’, of course, will be those who are best connected to customers.”

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