Cardiff: BT gives Wales first taste of 21CN

A network upgrade to Dai for?

A network upgrade to Dai for?

BT's 21st Century Network (21CN) has taken its first step towards reality with the announcement that the city of Cardiff is acting as the acid test for the project.

The migration will see 350,000 lines in the Cardiff metropolitan area transferred to the new IP-based network. In addition, the 50 local exchanges will get an equipment refit and three new metro nodes - uber-telephone exchanges - will be developed for Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.

The telco is hoping its - and its customers' - experiences in the Welsh capital will give it a unique insight into what to expect as it takes the upgrade to the whole country.

The area was chosen from among 20 contenders for the experiment because it's demographically representative of the UK and of BT Wholesale's customer base.

Daryl Dunbar, director of 21CN customer solutions, said the telco isn't releasing details of whether it will be following up the network upgrade with new services but added: "It is something we'll be looking into... but we're not prepared to predict what services will be available."

BT is planning to start the Cardiff element of the upgrade in the second half of next year and expects it to be concluded within a matter of weeks. The telco is hoping to have the UK-wide rollout - some 30 million lines - completed within four years.

Dunbar said the timescale is "ambitious" but added the telco is "fully behind" its existing roadmap. BT recently came under fire from Marconi over its chances of meeting the deadline.