BT: 21CN Slips, IPTV Nears
The carrier has repeatedly stated, since it first outlined its grand plan in June 2004, that the business case for the £10 billion (US$19 billion) 21CN project depends on decommissioning its 16 legacy networks by the end of 2010. (See BT Moves Ahead With Mega Project.)
But in April this year, cracks in the deadline started to appear, though the carrier played down the magnitude of any extended life for its PSTN. (See BT Says 21CN Deadline Hasn't Moved.)
The overhang, though, is not insignificant. CEO Ben Verwaayen today laid out a revised migration plan showing that, in 2010, only 80 percent of BT's broadband and voice connections will have been migrated to the new platform, with the remaining 20 percent switching across in 2011.
That means a significant chunk of BT's legacy infrastructure will still be in commission in 2011, a scenario at odds with the project's tight business plan.
But the carrier is defying any suggestion that the new timetable will affect its balance sheet. Verwaayen told analysts at today's results meeting that the cost of the project hasn't changed, and a BT spokeswoman added that the business case also remains the same.
That business plan includes a reduction in annual operating costs of £1 billion ($1.9 billion). (See BT Moves Ahead With Mega Project.)
Executives involved in the 21CN transformation have noted on a number of occasions that they're learning as they go and constantly making changes and new decisions, so confirmation of the extension will surprise few people. And that learning process is also leading to new revenue opportunities. (See BT Rethinks 21CN Core Strategy, Ubiquity Leads New Round of 21CN Deals, BT's Learning From Google, and BT Cashes In on 21CN.)
Even with the adjustment, BT's 21CN timetable is still very aggressive. The first residential customers will be migrated onto the all-IP network in Cardiff, Wales, at the end of November, followed by a further 350,000 customers in the region in and around the Welsh capital over the following nine months. (See BT Plans Welsh Migration.)
Verwaayen says 21CN network upgrades are ongoing in 100 U.K. cities at present, that about 10 percent of the next-gen core network is built and operational, and that 75 million trial voice calls have gone across the new infrastructure.
BT vision for Xmas
The other BT timetable of interest to analysts, peers, suppliers, and customers is that surrounding the launch of the carrier's IPTV service, BT Vision. (See BT Unveils IPTV Service.)
The carrier has been saying for a while now that it will launch the service "this Autumn," which, it points out, ends on December 22. "I've become an expert on the seasons," quipped Ian Livingston, CEO of BT Retail, the division that will market and sell the service to U.K. consumers.
He refuted suggestions that the launch would be low key and limited -- "We are going to be very ambitious, and there are going to be some very exciting services" -- though he said the service would "build up" from its initial launch.
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