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BT Shuns Traffic Shaping & Eyes Fibre (Cable)

Posted: 13th Apr, 2007 By: MarkJ
BT Wholesale's chief technical officer, Matt Beal, has claimed that the operator’s new 21CN network will offer enough bandwidth so as to negate them having to introduce 'Traffic Shaping' technology:

Traffic shaping is a means of prioritising certain types of data over others to avoid network congestion. The practice is at the heart of the debate over so-called "network neutrality", as some see it as a way to protect time-sensitive applications such as VoIP, while others see it as a way for operators to promote their own services over those of rivals.

It recently emerged that the Canadian carrier, Rogers, has been traffic shaping for some time to the detriment of users who, for example, transmit encrypted data. On Thursday, Beal called such practices "quite Big Brother-ish" and maintained that 21CN, which is due for completion by 2011, had the "capacity and scalability" to make that sort of traffic shaping unnecessary.

"It is up to us at the core of the network to make sure there is enough bandwidth for [our services and those of our competitors]," said Beal, who claimed that trials of high-definition TV — the kind of bandwidth-intensive application that some fear could result in network congestion — over 21CN had been successful.

Several UK ISP's use the technology to restrict usage of P2P (file sharing), Newsgroups and sometimes other services, such as VPN. Typically while it's good to know that BT will not impose a general restriction, external ISP's will still have the option to do so.

Elsewhere Beal once again reiterated BT's position on FTTx (Fibre) networks, highlighting good results from their Ebbsfleet trials while stating that the technology was not something BT envisaged changing its policy (too expensive) on over the next couple of years.

However the opinion given to ZDNet above differs ever so slightly from one offered by BT Openreach's chief engineer, Bob Cowie. While speaking to Reuters he states:

"The most significant change in the last 12 months has been the price of copper on the world market," Bob Cowie, chief engineer of BT's Openreach unit told reporters in Tokyo. "It genuinely is now a cheaper option for new sites to build fibre networks from scratch" than copper-based lines.

Unfortunately Cowie then goes on to reiterate much of what Beal had said earlier, regarding issues over general costs and regulation. BT doesn’t want to spend billions building another network that rivals can then access for effectively nothing.
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