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Schoolgirl gets BT's 21CN rolling

Welsh village of Wick is the first place to experience BT's next-generation IP network
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The first customer migrations to BT's next-generation communications network have begun in the Welsh village of Wick.

On Tuesday, 11-year-old resident Laura Wess was scheduled to make the first call on 21CN (21st century network), to the Rt Rev John Davies, the bishop of St Asaph in North Wales.

"Today marks a symbolic but momentous occasion for BT, the communications industry, for Wales and the rest of the UK as 21CN, over three years in the making, starts to become real for customers," said Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, on Tuesday.

 "Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call 130 years ago — we are also making history here in Wick with the first live UK customer calls using a carrier class all-IP network."

BT also marked the event by donating "a wireless mobile IT suite with 16 laptops and curriculum software" to the local primary school in Wick.

It will take about five years for 21CN to roll out across the UK. The IP-based network should allow BT and its customers to introduce a range of innovative multimedia services in the future. One such product — the IPTV service BT Vision — will arrive next month, BT announced on Tuesday.

The timescale of the rollout has, however, been criticised for being too short, given the scale of the task, and the regulator Ofcom has also hinted that it may want to regulate 21CN in much the same way it forced BT to open up its existing broadband services to rival suppliers.

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