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BT Nears Final Phase of UK Retirement for 20CN Broadband ISP Services

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 (1:03 am) - Score 4,091

BT’s strategy to retire their older 20th Century Network (20CN) based broadband ISP services (e.g. 8Mbps ADSL / IPStream Connect products) remains on course to begin its final phase in October 2013, which by 31st March 2014 should see related services being removed from a total of 2549 telephone exchanges around the United Kingdom.

The on-going work, which began several years ago (here), is broadly related to the operators continued expansion of its latest 21CN and Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) platform that includes support for up to 24Mbps capable ADSL2+ technology (plus FTTC and other modern IP technologies in certain areas – subject to a separate rollout by BTOpenreach).

Under the current plan BT expects its 21CN platform to cover a little over 92% of the country by summer 2013 (around 23 million premises) and as a result the operator sees little advantage in retaining their older 20CN infrastructure in the same locations. Indeed last year BT stopped accepting new provide orders for its 20CN based IPStream Connect products at over 1,200 exchanges (here).

Alex Whitworth, Timicos Product Management Executive, confirmed:

Service providers like Timico are in the process of migrating customers onto the 21st century network where it is available. Migrations have been on-going for some time and are being managed through on a monthly basis with our suppliers to make sure they are as seamless as possible and that there is no disruption to your service.

Services that are not being migrated or replaced by the 21CN network is SDSL services, these are due to be completely retired by March next year.”

As with past updates on this process it’s very important to stress that the last 8% or so of mostly rural areas (this equates to around 2 million premises), where the older 20CN based platform is still present, will not be affected because BT currently has no firm plans to expand its 21CN platform beyond the 92% coverage mark (UK 21CN coverage currently sits at almost 90%).

However BT has already confirmed that they’re investigating “further WBC expansion plans” for later in 2013 and some unofficial / off-the-cuff remarks made to ISPreview.co.uk recently, by sources close to Openreach, have suggested that a target coverage of around 95% could eventually follow. The final 5% might be left to hunt for better broadband solutions via alternative methods and ISPs.

It’s expected that 20CN will, from October 2013, be retired at a rate of around 400 exchanges per month.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Chris Conder says:

    Anywhere an altnet is operating BT seem to be able to update rural exchanges. Funny that.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Encouraged to do that by Sky, TalkTalk and other ISPs.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      Hardly surprising if the upgrades are reaching 92% of the population that they include areas covered by other network operators, common sense really. I doubt there are many “altnets” in the remaining 8%, the economics of areas like the Highlands and Islands are not appealing to many!

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      Many of the altnets and related RCBF projects that we know of tend to focus on the most remote rural areas, which are perhaps more likely than not to be in that final 8-5%. One reason for that is because they tend to focus on areas that BT has left neglected and would thus perhaps be less likely to upgrade in the future.

    4. Sledgehammer says:

      Not funny really, it’s just BT trying not to loose too much line rental permanently.

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