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BT has picked Cardiff and to kick off the regional roll-out of its all-singing, all dancing 21st Century Network (21CN).

Some 350,000 phone lines are set to be migrated onto the new digital platform in the second half of 2006 as part of BT's £10bn investment in the new network.

Once the switch-over is completed BT phone users in the Cardiff area will notice...well, very little. If anything.

In the years ahead, though, punters might find that they will be able to sign up to video telephony, TV-on-demand and all manner of gee-whizz applications and services.

And they'll be able to make phone calls too.

Or as BT puts it: "Once the programme has been completed, 21CN will provide homes and businesses with greater choice, control and flexibility over the communications services they use.

"[21CN] is an 'enabling' technology which, in due course, will enable them to provide new services to their customers - domestic and business - more quickly and respond to what their customers want more rapidly."

For BT, the completion of 21CN by 2008/09 will create a single nation-wide network (as opposed to the 16 networks currently in operation) delivering £1bn in cost savings each year.

In a statement BT Wholesale chief exec Paul Reynolds said that the telco was now moving from test phase to implementing its new digital network.

"We chose Cardiff and the surrounding area primarily because of its impressive track record in pioneering the benefits of, and attracting inward investment in, advanced communications and information technology.

"The area's demographics are also representative of the UK market and critically, BT Wholesale's customer base. Its essential that 21CN meets the needs of operators, service providers, businesses and consumers alike," he said.

In April researchers crowned Cardiff as the UK's broadband capital with some four in ten hooked up to a high speed internet connection. ®

Related stories

BT to save £1bn a year with IP network
BT still needs to be policed, says industry
BT to trial fibre-to-the-home
BT's 21CN is 'exciting, radical and now'
Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal

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