21CN is a massive project and these always carry risks of slipping schedules. It seems BT Wholesale is running into further problems with its Wholesale Broadband Managed Connect (WBMC) product. It is thought that broadband providers will hear news of the delay at an ISP forum meeting with BT Wholesale today.
BT IPStream Connect is an ADSL product that provides a stepping stone from the legacy 20CN IPStream products that have been on sale since 2000 to the 21CN product range. The main change being that providers can take over the bandwidth at a 21CN node. The end-user would see no difference in their connection speeds. This product is available to purchase now and requires the ISP to provide their own backhaul from the BRAS in the BT network to their own equipment.
WBMC is a product from BT Wholesale aimed at the small to medium sized provider that incorporates IPStream Connect as well as allowing the provision of the 21CN ADSL2+ products. It lets the ISP terminate broadband connections in a similar way to the IPStream Central pipe system currently used by service providers, but instead uses a WES (wholesale extension service) from one of 100 BT 21CN metro nodes. This is what many providers would be expecting to migrate to eventually, however the launch appears to have been delayed by up to 6 months with a release planned now for summer 2009.
It is thought the reason behind the delays have been down to problems in getting the systems set-up to deal with the volumes of orders expected, and for those who got ADSL early in 2000, will sound familiar.
Any delays by BT Wholesale play into the hands of their competitors such as Virgin Media or LLU providers, who enjoy the delays as it gives them a longer advantage in the speed and usage allowance competition. Unfortunately for around one third of UK households, BT Wholesale broadband connections remain the only choice.