is running a series of seminars across the UK to help VARs combat ‘real and
imagined’ issues relating to its forthcoming migration to 21st Century Network
The carrier has already migrated 350,000 customers to the next-generation network following a trial
in South Wales. The rest of the UK should be up and running by 2011.
But with rivals looking to stir up panic around potential compatibility and service disruption issues, BT and its allies are keen to quell channel fears before the bulk of customers are upgraded.
To this end, the carrier is hosting three seminars this month in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh through industry communications campaign ‘switched-on’.
Michael Eagle, trade association manager of the Federation of Communication Services, which is one of several associations backing switched-on, said that the seminars would encourage resellers to analyse their customer base and draw up action plans.
He added: “The chances are there will not be any issues with the vast majority of customers. In a small way this is like the millennium bug because there is an opportunity for unscrupulous rivals to make issues where there just are none.”
Joe Kelly, director of communications for BT Wholesale, said 500 individuals have signed up to the seminars and 200 VARs had registered to switched-on’s web site.
“If the seminars are successful, the aim is for the resellers to run events of their own,” he added.
Although Kelly hit out at rivals for falsely claiming the advent of 21CN would force firms to buy new IPBXs, he conceded the upgrade would lead to some product retirements, including its Meter Pulse product for hotels.
“There may be some things that VARs need to anticipate and go through with customers months beforehand,” he confirmed.
Kelly also claimed firms would receive service disruptions of no more than 30 minutes when the changeover occurs.
Richard Bligh, group marketing director at Gamma Telecom, one of 20 service providers backing switched-on and one of just two carriers integrating its exchanges with 21CN, said: “Gamma is 100 per cent channel so getting communications to resellers about what switched-on and 21CN is about is paramount. We want to be at the front of this.”
Bligh added that Gamma is running its own web seminars for resellers who are unable to make any of the three seminars.
Mass migration to 21CN will not begin until BT is convinced it has assessed any problems with the pilot phase, Kelly said. By 2011, 23 million customers and 30 million lines will have upgraded to the new network.
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