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BT exec provides update on the carrier's next-generation network and new services, but sidesteps questions about the fate of PBT

April 16, 2008

3 Min Read
BT Touts 21CN Progress, New Service

LONDON -- Ethernet Expo: Europe 2008 -- BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is preparing the launch of new Ethernet and broadband services and the unveiling of its Web 2.0 service development platform, which will all take advantage of its ongoing 21CN investments, the carrier's director of IP and data platforms Karl Penaluna announced in a keynote address here in London.

But in a marked change from the carrier's presentations a year earlier, controversial Ethernet technology Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) did not feature in Penaluna's network diagrams, and he sidestepped questions about the technology's current role at BT. (See A Guide to PBT/PBB-TE.)

New services, apps creation platform
Penaluna told the audience that BT is set to launch a new suite of Ethernet services in the U.K. in May, to be followed by the launch of faster broadband access capabilities (up to 24 Mbit/s) based on ADSL2+ technology. Then toward the end of this year, BT plans to launch integrated voice and broadband services over Ethernet connections.

These new Ethernet services, initially up to 500 Mbit/s and up to 1GigE later, will be enabled from 106 new service nodes, currently housing Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) 7750 multiservice routers, by the end of May, said the BT man. He added that the number of those nodes should reach 1,000 by the end of April 2009.

In international markets, BT has to deal with a wide variety of access technologies, including DSL and wireless as well as the usual range of legacy TDM technologies, feeding data traffic from corporate customers into the carrier's global "Ethernet-only service platform," said Penaluna. So the carrier is developing a "global mediation device," which could be some sort of multiservice access node (MSAN), that will sit between the access networks and that service platform.

And by the end of the summer, BT also plans to have launched what it is now calling its "Innovation Platform," which is essentially its Web21C, Web 2.0 initiative that will allow third party application developers to build and try out new services using a BT service development kit and the carrier's network resources. (See BT Inches Toward Telco 2.0.)

But what about PBT?
What surprised many people here at the Expo, though, was the BT man's cool approach to PBT, a technology that the British carrier has been so keen on promoting for some years now, including at last year's Ethernet Expo Europe. (See PBT Stars at Ethernet Expo .)

When asked by Heavy Reading senior analyst Stan Hubbard about BT's current plans for PBT in 21CN, Penaluna noted: "There will be a lot of technologies used, but the discussion about technology is not the important question -- the real issue is the cost transformation and the services. I am interested in appropriate technologies and offering the innovation platform."

Penaluna declined to discuss BT's Ethernet technology strategy further after his keynote session.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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