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21CN: It's an Ethernet Thing

Ray Le Maistre

LONDON -- Ethernet Expo: Europe 2006 -- 21CN, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)'s high profile next generation all-IP network, is essentially a massive, end-to-end Ethernet network, according to the £10 billion ($17.8 billion) project's program director Matt Beal. (See BT Closes 21CN Deals, Touts IPTV and BT Takes 21CN 'Baby Step'.)

In a keynote speech to hundreds of attendees at Light Reading's Ethernet Expo: Europe 2006 late Tuesday, Beal noted that "Ethernet is across the entirety of 21CN, with reach through more than 5,500 exchanges, and Ethernet over optical. Ethernet is seen as the racehorse in the network now that it has reach and capacity capabilities not previously thought possible. It will enable us to take forward traditional services, create new services, and provide a bridge for our customers" between their existing and future service needs.

"We took the decision about 18 months ago to have Ethernet throughout the 21CN once we had looked at our options about how to do layer 2 services. We chose Ethernet because we need to be competitive in 2010 and beyond. I predict ATM will not survive in our network," he added.

It's not like BT isn't already providing Ethernet services, but Beal says the 21CN network will enable the carrier to deliver on the technology's promises. (See BT Picks Alcatel VPLS and BT's Bross: Ethernet Will Deliver.)

"We're already providing Ethernet services, but today's services are complex, restrictive and expensive -- the antitheses of what Ethernet is all about. And they don't have the ubiquity and constancy we will have in the future. In 21CN it will be a completely different story -- the services will be delivered across a network that is native Ethernet," stated Beal.

So when exactly will the 21CN be switched on and BT's current PSTN switched off? The carrier has always said the switchover would take place in 2010. "We have a date, and we'll be communicating that to our vendor suppliers first," says Beal, adding that BT will make that date public probably during the second half of this year.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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12/5/2012 | 3:55:48 AM
re: 21CN: It's an Ethernet Thing
Any ideas what this really entails? Ethernet over optical (in recent terms) would mean Ethernet over G.709 but then Ethernet over SONET can't be ruled out given the abilities of 21CN suppliers.
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