BT’s 21st Century Network Racks up 23 Million Calls

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BT's transformation of its network to deliver the next generation of communications services took a major step forward this week with more than 23 million customer calls successfully carried over the IP based trial network.

In this latest trial stage of the 21st Century Network (21CN) programme, more than 625,000 live customer calls are currently being handled every day.

The trial involves the use of an IP link to carry voice calls between two major network nodes at Cambridge and Woolwich. Calls are carried using IP packet technology rather than the circuit switched technology used on the traditional analogue telephone network.

The success of the trial represents a significant step towards the creation of BT’s next generation network. It builds on the previous trial which ran from October to December 2005 where fourteen million calls were successfully carried on the IP network and voice quality monitoring carried out.

Equipment upgrades are bringing the trial network closer to the ultimate 21CN design that will be rolled out across the UK. Multi service access nodes or MSANs from Huawei and Fujitsu are already in use, carrying voice services onto the core network from trial customer lines. This equipment is being installed at 18 exchanges in South East London, Kent and East Anglia.

For this stage of the trial, BT has also newly introduced Cisco’s media gateway; Ericsson’s call server and a Cisco Catalyst Switch. Other key technology components are Alcatel’s LAN switch and Siemens/Juniper routers used in a previous 21CN voice trial.

Deb Covey, managing director, BT Wholesale Networks said: “21CN is gathering momentum as we head towards the start of customer lines being switched to the new network in South Wales in November. We are working with the rest of the industry to finalise the UK rollout plan. It’s full steam ahead as we prepare sites across the country for equipment to be installed this summer.”

The volume of calls being handled by the trial platform will represent around one per cent of BT’s current PSTN trunk network call traffic. The trial is set to be completed ahead of the first stage of mass customer migration to the new all IP network. Commencing in November 2006, this will involve migrating some 350,000 end customer lines in Cardiff and the surrounding area.