BT denies legacy broadband switch-off will be "catastrophic"

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

BT has dismissed claims the imminent shutdown of its first-generation broadband network will have "catastrophic consequences" for businesses that haven't upgraded.

The telecommunications giant plans to switch-off its 20th Century Network (20CN) at the end of next month, having gradually wound down its coverage over the past several years.

The network, which provides standard copper broadband speeds of up to 8Mbps, has been superseded and replaced by BT's 20Mbps 21CN network in many places.

Businesses cannot operate these days without decent internet access, so this is something that needs attention straightaway.

At the moment, around 92 per cent of the UK is served by BT's 21CN network, and in these areas its 8Mbps products will be withdrawn from 31 March.

In areas not covered by 21CN, BT has promised to maintain its legacy broadband network until the end of September 2014.

However, hosting provider Timico claims some businesses maybe ill-prepared for the looming withdrawal date and the move to 21CN.

Tony Tugulu, director of managed networks at Timico, said: "This switch-off will have catastrophic consequences for businesses who are unprepared for the migration to 21CN.

"In a worst case scenario, businesses could see their services cut off completely, leaving them with no internet connection and the potential for expensive reconnection charges.

"Businesses cannot operate these days without decent internet access, so this is something that needs attention straightaway," Tugulu added.

BT dismissed the Timico's assertions in a statement to IT Pro, explaining the retirement of its legacy broadband products has been well publicised to end users and the wider industry.

"The retirement of BT Wholesale's legacy broadband products should come as no surprise to UK communications providers as we notified industry of our intention to retire the IPStream and Datastream products as far back as 2008," the statement reads.

"Since then, we have been encouraging industry to migrate their business and consumer customers onto our next generation broadband network which delivers much faster speeds via advanced copper and fibre.

"Most communications providers have already completed or are nearing the end of migrating their customers across to the next generation network," it added.

The company then went on to reiterate its commitment to maintaining its legacy networks in areas where 21CN has not yet been deployed.

"There is still plenty of time for end customers to migrate as we will continue to maintain the legacy broadband network until the end of September 2014," the statement added.

"We would urge communications providers to migrate their customers onto the next generation network by the end of June 2014 however, and to contact us should they experience any problems."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.