With Paul Reynolds long decamped Down Under as CEO of Telecom New Zealand and with Matt Bross now CTO of Huawei, the lead evangelists have gone and we have heard little about BT's much-vaunted 21st Century Network (21CN) of late. But today we learn that O2 has signed a five-year-long multi-million pound deal with BT that will result in O2's mobile and fixed core networks into a single network on the 21CN platform. Martyn Warwick reports.
Like a baby elephant, BT 21CN is having a long (very long) gestation.
The hype of few years ago has slowly died away as BT technologists and engineers discovered that the 21st Century network is rather more difficult to bring about in practice than the marketers and spin doctors would have us believe.
Indeed, these days the delayed project is rarely mentioned - but today comes news that O2, the telco spun-out of BT back in 2001, is to use the 21CN as the foundation of a single, consolidated network that, O2 says, will give it an enhanced competitive edge in terms of the speedy delivery of new next-generation services whilst simultaneously helping to reduce capital expenditure.
O2 is acting now in market expectation that it will soon be offering (the target date is March) fixed-line voice services to consumers (it has been offering fixed line services to businesses since September 2009) and in necessary reaction to the burgeoning use by subscribers of data-intensive mobile applications.
In fact, BT Wholesale already provides O2 with several services but this new multi-million pound contract will consolidate O2's UK mobile and fixed networks and operations into a single coherent and contiguous whole.
Nigel Purdy O2's head of networks says, "As we move to an all IP world and as data traffic volumes increase, the consolidation of our fixed and mobile core networks is a common sense approach that will help future-proof our business and provide the best possible service for our customers."
BT has long been kicking itself for the short-sighteness and shirt-termism it exhibited by selling-off its mobile operations and it is more than a little ironic to note that O2, now the UK's biggest operator, will soon be in a position to offer the entire gamut of modern telecoms services, something its erstwhile parent is still quite a unable to do. It is going to be a real and increasingly powerful rival to the UK incumbent and will be exploiting BT's own 21CN to compete with BT itself.
O2 plans to provide two fixed-line tariffs for domestic residential customers - Evening & Weekend and Anytime. O2 says that Anytime will provide subscribers with unlimited calls to U.K. landlines at any time of the day or night and as to over 22 overseas destinations for £12.50 per month. BT will struggle to come up with anything to compete with that.
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