Speaking to Comms Business Magazine, David Tansley, telecommunications partner at Deloitte, says, “BT has announced that it has completed the first stage of its 21st century network (21CN) project to build one of the world’s most advanced converged networks, replacing the existing Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The network, built using Internet Protocol technology, will deliver a radical reduction in network operating costs for BT. By consolidating separate networks on to a single platform, the network should be more reliable and will be easier to maintain. The upgrade will enable BT and other service providers to offer a whole new range of products and services to consumers & businesses, based on its converged voice and data platform.
21CN is arguably one of the most ambitious network renewal programmes ever undertaken, and the UK will be one of the first countries to replace its public switch telephone network (PSTN) with a converged IP platform. This is an ambitious plan, unprecedented in scale and complexity and will lead to the UK having one of the most advanced network infrastructures of its kind.
21CN should see a step change in operational efficiency at BT and the way in which it serves it customers, enabling a range of new applications to be delivered to consumers by BT and other service providers that will use the network. The upgrade will help to address the demand for new, more interactive services, together with the unrelenting growth in internet traffic – with increasing demand from consumers for more bandwidth from their network.
Ultimately the provision of next generation services, such as IPTV, will be more effective on 21CN than the existing infrastructure, and BT will be well positioned to take advantage of the revenue opportunities that these services – depending on their uptake – have the potential to provide.
Switching off the PSTN and replacing it with IP technology will see the dawn of a new era. Few telecoms operators currently have the wherewithal to implement a capital investment programme of this magnitude, and it may be a number of years before the real benefits are realised.
Ironically given the scale of the programme, the most significant sign of success from 21CN in the immediate term will be that customers don’t notice any change of service at all, but in time many will come to enjoy a more persuasive and engaging consumer experience.”