21CN: Channel Needs Clarity say Zyxel

Rob Mackinnon, Product Manager for Zyxel has told Comms Business Magazine that the only thing that is clear about BT21CN at the moment is that nothing is clear, and ISPs are still uncertain what impact it will have on their ability to provide a service.

“At the heart of this issue is the proposed pricing structure for BT’s 21CN which is likely to see many ISPs struggling to compete with the high costs of transferring each customer from the old to the new, and which is likely to force the market to consolidate.

Further complicating the matter, although BT has made it clear they intend to maintain the old legacy network alongside the 21CN, with nearly 1 million LLU ports on the legacy network this lifts the restriction on BT to compete with 21CN. The legacy network will not take on any new customers when 21CN is activated which means ISPs will be forced to accept BT’s pricing or join together in order to afford geographical points of presence.

Having said that, LLU providers that own their own network infrastructure (Be, Easynet etc) are likely to capitalise on this and offer new business services to fill the emerging gap. Resellers must be mindful of consolidation within the ISP market as those ISPs they have worked with previously may suddenly find their ability to deliver a service is no longer tenable. Whilst AOL had the foresight to anticipate the impact of BT’s 21CN most ISPs haven’t. Over the coming year resellers can expect to see a reverse auction forced, where ISPs may have to sell customers to rivals.

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