At a recent partner meeting with Cable & Wireless conversation turned to BT’s ongoing 21CN rollout. This multibillion pound investment by BT seems to be floundering especially when it comes to converting the legacy phone system onto it. Currently BT have unbundled some 3,000 lines so with a further 29 million to go we can be confident that the expected completion will be way into 2014, a few years behind schedule.
What was interesting was the near unanimous acceptance that BT 21CN will not reach all the exchanges and that realistically they will stop rollout at around 1,100 exchanges. This observation confirms other rumours I have heard within the industry and makes a lot of sense. When you are multinational business with a project requiring such massive investment why take it to areas that will not provide the necessary return. With BT suffering from a dramatic drop in share value, parts of the group loosing vast sums of money and a pension deficit I can not see there being the resources, let alone the desire, to roll out new services to exchanges that do not have the demand.
I suspect any announcement on such a plan will be a long time coming from BT as they will have to withstand pressure from Government on the ‘Digital Divide’ and the partners who have invested heavily in equipment to talk to BT’s new network. Currently only BT Retail and Enta have made the necessary investment into WBC and I am sure will be very upset if BT only provided the same footprint as to most LLU carriers.
Fluidata has always invested in LLU relationships just because the technology is years ahead of BT. We have been selling ADSL2+ with Annex M technology from Telefonica O2 at over 1,200 exchanges for over 18-months now and by the time BT gets to the party it will be time to go home. Maybe this is what BT are slowly waking up to.