There’s no doubt that an undertaking the size of BT’s 21CN project is immense, difficult and costly. At the same time, there can also be no doubt that BT will have a host of detractors highlighting the company’s shortcomings when it comes to completion times and applications.
However, BT is responding to criticism positively and is set to roll out four key applications on their next generation network in 2008.
Joe Kelly, Director of Communications for BT Wholesale 21CN says that instead of migrating new users of their 21CN to the same services they have decided to offer them new applications on their new network.
“The migrations to 21CN we have carried out so far have provided us with feedback from users and the industry. This has lead us to prioritise the launch of new applications for the network and four new services are to be launched this calendar year.
The first is a wholesale Ethernet service providing high speed data connectivity for resale which we will launch later this month.
The second is a new broadband service due to launch this Spring called Wholesale Broadband which is based upon ADSL2+ and will offer speeds of up to 24Mbps. We know from trials and lab tests that people won’t necessarily get 24Mbps as it is exchange distance related, but it will provide users a much faster service.
The next application is called an Innovation Platform. We have been talking in 21CN for some while about opening up the development of new services to people beyond those on our payroll. How does a third party application house develop applications for 21CN? The Innovation Platform which will launch this Summer delivers those third party applications.”
BT has made a beta version 21CN software developer toolkit available for download since December 2007 and so far more than 8000 downloads have been recorded.
Kelly says that 4300 new applications have been developed using the SDK and are in test phase but that 140 applications are already proved, working and in use. The BT 21CN Innovation Platform will be the vehicle to get those applications out to customers.
The fourth application which will launch towards the end of the year is a set of next generation voice services designed to give users better functionality.
“The focus is now very much on getting these new services out to market. More services will be progressively offered as the network move towards completion. We said from the outset of 21CN that this would be a radical and exciting program – but it ain’t easy. It does challenge pretty much everything that exists in telecoms today. The human element is equally challenging – asking people to come with you on a significant change.
Engagement from the rest of the industry has been very impressive. Entanet for example, have been very early trialists of the new broadband service we are set to launch.”