BT to Switch Voice Calls to IP as 21st Century Network Takes Shape First 1,000 customers to trial high quality voice services on new IP network

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BT to trial limited wider use of optical fibre in access network



    NEW YORK, June 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- BT's transformation of its
 network to deliver the next generation of communications services took a step
 forward today with the announcement of a pilot for the switch-over of voice
 calls to an end to end IP (Internet Protocol) based network.
     BT also announced trials of niche deployments of fibre to the premises,
 aimed at testing the technical and commercial issues involved.
     BT Wholesale chief executive Paul Reynolds said: "We've been talking about
 our vision for our 21st century network and today marks the start of the
 transition from planning stage to physical implementation.
     "The 21CN programme will deliver today's services at better cost by
 removing duplication in our networks and underpin the delivery of services
 customers will want in the future.  For customers, the end result will be a
 complete experience -- one based on convenience and ease of use of all
 communications services including mobility, video, data services and voice."
     As a precursor to large scale migration of voice and other PSTN based
 services from 2006, the first stage in the migration pilot will involve the
 bypass of the core PSTN network link between two major network nodes at
 Cambridge and Woolwich.  An extension is planned later to Faraday exchange in
 London.
     From October 2004, BT will divert voice calls between these network nodes
 to the 21CN specific IP network. Calls will be carried using IP packet
 technology rather than the circuit switched technology used on PSTN.  The
 switch-over will be seamless from the customer's perspective and service
 quality will be the same or better than on PSTN.
     The next stage of this pilot involves the installation of new equipment at
 18 exchanges in South East London, Kent and East Anglia -- which are connected
 to the network nodes in Cambridge and Woolwich. This equipment, known as multi
 service access nodes (MSANs), will carry voice and data services onto the core
 IP based network, initially for 1,000 customers by January 2005.
     Paul Reynolds added: "We want to be absolutely clear that using IP
 technology in our network for our premium quality voice services is a gulf
 apart from the new budget voice over the internet services being launched
 almost daily by a wide range of providers.
     "We believe we can provide these services over IP at the same or better
 than the high standards of quality and reliability people expect from the PSTN
 today.  These calls are not going over the internet.  They will be carried on
 our dedicated high capacity IP networks which also carry data and broadband
 services.
     "Adopting IP as the common transport method is both cost efficient and
 facilitates technology, systems, product and service convergence.  BT's vision
 is that voice will be one of many applications run over an IP network in our
 21st century network world."
     BT today also announced 21CN programme 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.
     The trials will provide telephone and broadband services over fibre for up
 to 1,500 homes and businesses.  The first trialists will have their fibre
 lines installed and working in October 2004 and the trial will run until
 September 2005.
     Paul Reynolds said: "As part of our 21CN programme, BT is looking at the
 potential that fibre in the access network can deliver for our customers and
 the investment and operational requirements that go with it.  If the
 commercial case is proved, we could begin to consider the role that fibre may
 have further out in the network in the future.
     "We expect the real benefits of this trial to be in informing our thinking
 on the relative costs and benefits of deploying fibre, rather than copper, to
 homes and businesses in green-field sites or new-build developments."
     BT's 21CN programme aims to migrate the company's existing multiple,
 service specific networks to a single converged multi-service IP based
 network.  It includes work towards increasing the bandwidth of services
 provided over the copper access network as well as the trials of fibre
 deployment.
     Paul Reynolds added: "At this stage we don't envisage a widespread
 deployment of fibre to the premises or the cabinet in the near or medium term.
 While we believe the use of fibre can help deliver better operating costs in
 terms of maintenance, we need to balance this against the cost of installation
 and systems developments.  These trials will help to shape our thinking and
 help us make strategic investment decisions."
 
     Note to editors:
     Photographs of Paul Reynolds, BT Wholesale chief executive, and 21st
 Century Networks related images are available via BT's picture library hosted
 by Vismedia at http://www.vismedia.co.uk
 
     PSTN to IP transformation trial
     The initial customers to use IP based networks for end-to-end services
 previously carried on the PSTN will largely be BT employees in the exchange
 areas below.  The deployment to these trialists will provide valuable
 information about the technicalities and practicalities of the future
 large-scale migration of services.  The pilot will be extended to 3,000
 customers in June 2005 prior to large-scale migration in 2006.
 
 
     Exchange            County               RDA
     ADDISCOMBE          Greater London       London
     BELSTEAD            Suffolk              East of England
     BEXLEYHEATH         Greater London       London
     BROMLEY             Greater London       London
     CATFORD             Greater London       London
     CHERRY HINTON       Cambridgeshire       East of England
     CRAYFORD            Greater London       London
     DARTFORD            Kent                 South East
     ELTHAM              Greater London       London
     FELIXSTOWE          Suffolk              East of England
     GROVE PARK          Greater London       London
     IPSWICH TOWN        Suffolk              East of England
     KESGRAVE            Suffolk              East of England
     ORPINGTON           Greater London       London
     SIDCUP              Greater London       London
     WHITTON             Suffolk              East of England
     WOODBRIDGE          Suffolk              East of England
     WOOLWICH            Greater London       London
 
     BT has selected the following companies to support the PSTN to IP pilot:
      * Marconi is supplying core network Softswitches and multi-service access
        nodes (MSANs) for voice services.
      * Alcatel is providing IP ethernet switching equipment.
      * Siemens is supplying metro media gateways and Juniper core and edge
        routers.
 
     Fibre to the premises trial
     The fibre to the premise trial will involve the installation of new fibre
 optic cables between a BT exchange and the property of those taking part.
 Telephone and broadband services provided will be on a second line in parallel
 to services currently provided over the BT network.  Optical network units at
 the exchanges and customer premises to manage the interface between the fibre
 and BT and customer equipment.
     ECI is supporting the fibre to the premises trials by supplying optical
 network units for use at customer premises and optical line termination
 equipment at the exchange.
 
     Supplier contracts
     BT is today formally launching the procurement process to select long term
 suppliers for 21CN, which may not necessarily be those involved in the trials
 and early implementation stages. Contracts for the main rollout phases will be
 awarded following a formal competitive tendering process that will be
 concluded by the end of 2004.
 
     Forward-looking statements - caution advised
     Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking and are made
 in reliance on the safe harbour provisions of the US Private Securities
 Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements include, without limitation,
 those concerning: transformation of BT's networks and cost base; benefits to
 customers of the 21CN programme; anticipated capital spend on 21CN
 transformation and expected cash savings; timescales for delivery of 21CN; and
 delivery of instantly available broadband.
     Although BT believes that the expectations reflected in these forward-
 looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that these
 expectations will prove to have been correct.  Because these statements
 involve risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from
 those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.
     Factors that could cause differences between actual results and those
 implied by the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
 material adverse changes in economic and financial markets conditions in the
 markets served by BT; future regulatory actions and conditions in BT's
 operating areas; technological innovations; developments in the convergence of
 technologies; and the anticipated benefits and advantages of new technologies,
 products and services, including broadband, not being realised.  BT undertakes
 no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of
 new information, future events or otherwise.
 
  Inquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on
 its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.
               All news releases can be accessed at our web site:
                          http://www.bt.com/newscentre
                  U.S. Contact:  Eileen Connolly, 908-410-1419
 
     About BT
     BT Group plc is the listed holding company for an integrated group of
 businesses providing voice and data services in the UK and overseas,
 particularly in Europe, but also in the Americas and the Asia Pacific region.
 British Telecommunications plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc,
 holds virtually all businesses and assets of the BT group.
     BT is one of Europe's leading providers of telecommunications services.
 Its principal activities include local, national and international
 telecommunications services, higher-value broadband and internet products and
 services, and IT solutions.  In the UK, BT serves over 20 million business and
 residential customers with more than 29 million exchange lines, as well as
 providing network services to other licensed operators.
     BT consists principally of three lines of business:
 
      * BT Retail, serving businesses and residential customers and including
        BT Openworld, one of the UK's leading ISPs.
 
      * BT Wholesale, providing network services and solutions within the UK,
        including ADSL, conveyance, transit, bulk delivery of private circuits,
        frame relay and ISDN connections.
 
      * BT Global Services, BT's managed services and solutions provider,
        serving multi-site organisations worldwide.  Its core target market is
        the top 10,000 global multi-site organisations with European
        operations.
 
     There are a number of other businesses within the BT group, including BT
 Exact, an internationally renowned centre of excellence in IT and networking
 technologies. It is also BT's technology and research and development
 business.
     In the year ended 31 March 2004, BT's turnover was 18,519 million pounds
 Sterling with profit before goodwill amortisation, exceptional items and
 taxation of 2,016 million pounds.
     For more information, visit http://www.bt.com.
 
 

SOURCE BT Group plc

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