UK regulator Ofcom has revealed plans to encourage the build out of competitive Next Generation Networks (NGNs) by alternative operators. Ofcom will next month launch a new industry body, NGN UK, led by Peter Black as Executive Chairman; Black will continue in his ongoing role as head of consumer watchdog, the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator. NGN UK will focus on the technical and commercial arrangements for NGN development. Its initial priority will be to help companies develop networks to compete with fixed line incumbent BT Group and ensure an effective technical and commercial framework for interconnection between NGNs. Ofcom has promised to monitor developments and the work of NGN UK, to ensure that regulation is informed by the industry’s commercial priorities. Eight companies have already committed to working with NGN UK, including Cable & Wireless, Easynet, Kingston Communications, ntl, Thus, Vodafone, Wanadoo and BT.
BT plans to migrate its entire network to a single IP platform over the next five years. The company’s 21st century network (21CN) programme aims to deliver a suite of services including high speed internet access, TV-style broadcasting, VoIP, and handsets that work on fixed and mobile networks, anywhere, on any device, and all at broadband speed. It expects to transfer an initial 350,000 PSTN users in Cardiff, Wales to the 21CN in the second half of 2006 and will begin mass migration to the IP network shortly afterwards.