The BT Group has made a couple of important announcements with regards to its much vaunted 21st century network plan. The two main press releases can be read here and here. It would appear that the main thrust is that limited trials of fibre to the premises are to take place and a transition away from the traditional PSTN network to an IP to IP network for voice traffic will occur. One key target is that BT is aiming for the majority of customers PSTN services to be on an IP network by 2008.
BT has also announced that as part of its 21st Century Network (21CN) a programme of fibre to the premises trials at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk; at Kents Hill, the Bolbeck Park and Walnut Tree developments in Milton Keynes; and at the Waterfront Studios business centre, at Silvertown in London's Docklands will take place. These trials will involve around 1500 homes and businesses and involve the fibre been installed and working in October 2004, with the trial running until October 2005.
The 21CN is not all about fibre to the premises some of the work is revolving around increasing the bandwidth to the home over existing copper so that multiple services are more readily available to both businesses and consumers. A word of caution the trials do not mean that we are going to see massive fibre to the premises deployments in the near term, it is really BT exploring the area and getting data on what the actual costs and problems of doing this on a large scale would be. Then they will be able to better assess the way forward, it may be that BT finds new developments are better served with fibre to the premises, but where a copper network exists limited fibre to the street cabinets may suffice.
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