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The Future of Telecom is in Wales 125

An anonymous reader wrote to mention a CNN Money story about the future of U.K. telecommunications. British Telecom is planning on rolling out an $18 Billion new system in 2010, and the first location to get the hook up is Cardiff, in Wales. From the article: "What's really cool about what will happen in Cardiff - and eventually the rest of the U.K. - is that BT is creating an open, standards-based platform for which anyone can develop new applications. In other words, the phone has the potential to become more like the Internet with its proliferation of cool new Web sites, tools and services."
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The Future of Telecom is in Wales

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  • They must use hands free headsets. Damn, I knew whales were smart, but this is amazing.
    • No, no ... it's not the whales. It's the people they eat. It's very hard to get reception inside a whale, and therefore very difficult to get help when a whale eats you. In old days, they had to light a fire and hope that a passing ship could see the smoke -- now we'll be able to send pictures of the ribcage and everything. Come on, man, RTFA.
    • Whales can communicate with probes in outer space, you id10t! Didn't you see ST4:TVH?
    • That truly is the worst pun ever. Not only is it hackneyed but it doesn't make literal sense. The future is in whales would mean phones will be made from whalebone, or whales will ferry your conversation over the seas.
    • this could make quite a splash.
    • It is rare that I get annoyed to the point of being offended, but this thread has almost done it. For those (especially in North America) who lack education, Wales is a small western European country of about 3.5 million people. It is a semi-autonomous part of the United Kingdom. In the 1970s and 1980s, it suffered tremendously from loss of traditional industries, but that is the past. We have have a vibrant business environment that has encouraged centres for optical technology in St Asaph, software in
      • It's not the lack of education, but the love of the pun that is offensive, but not particularly rare, unfortunately. A lot of us Americans know about Wales, and where it is, and la la la. Welsh Corgis, Welshmen taking a leek, Welsh's grape juice (Ok, sorry).
        Unbunch thy panties, we make fun of ourselves too.
        • So, would you be content with making the same puns/slanders/slights against black people in your county? Bet you wouldn't! You seem to be suggesting that we in Wales ought to be amused by your racist quips. Would you suggest the same to a black american when you made some quazi racist remark that effectively ignored their identity? A
          • How is Whales vs. Wales racist?
            And as a Polish American I have heard and told my fair share of Polack jokes.
            Your response makes my point perfectly. Nobody said ANYTHING bad about the Welsh. Yet you are offended. Your panties are, indeed, in a bunch.
            • What does the word "polack" mean? A
              • Ah....a person of Polish descent, but a disparaging term. The comedian began a joke, then stopped...."I'm going to tell a Polack joke now, is there anyone in the audience who's Polish? I don't want to offend you." Pause. Silence. "OK, then, well this Polack walks into a bar."
                A man in the front row stands up and says, "Hey wait a minute, I'M Polish." badda-boom.

                An American entrepreneur took a box of Cheerios to Poland to sell them as donut seeds. chhhh!

                A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to hi
                • Totally confused! In the UK just now, there is the architypal "Polish Plumber".

                  For years, the UK has been desparately short of skilled manual workers. Since Poland joined the European Union, Polish workers (amongst all from other accession states) can work in the UK. The "Polish Plumber"b is the plumber that (unlike the local person) you can get on the 'phone, who is keen to do the job, charges a good price, and is skilled.

                  I really do not know why, but the term "Polish Plumber" has come to exemplify

                  • And here someone from Wales is thought of as.....OK, you were right the first time, most Americans don't think of Wales at all...
                    I'm looking forward to getting there someday. It's on my list of places that I want to visit. Now I just need to get it on my wife's list.
                  • But this is the whole point. Even after all their protestations to the contrary, the US is far LESS integrated racially and culturally than the UK. The UK has had a mix of different cultures since the dawn of time, millenias before the discovery of the 'New World'. As such, when the european borders were opened up, and we started getting eastern european migrants arriving, to do all manner of blue collar work, we took in our stride, and in the most instance, absorbed them into the community.

                    From a non-US po
          • So, would you be content with making the same puns/slanders/slights against black people in your county?

            We can and do. I'm proud to say that for the most part, americans have gotten over our prejudices to the point where we can laugh at them.

            At least my generation does ( 30-35 ). I realize that I am a wetback/cracker mix, with all the jokes that entails.
          • As a Welshman born and bred I'd like to (a) point out that one Welshman's knee-jerk jump to the front of the racist line is not indicative of all of us, most of us are actually quite thick-skinned, and (b) let you all know that "twpsyn" is Welsh for idiot, feel free to throw that around to any other Cymro whose inferiority complex can't let them hear the "Wales/whales" gag for the nine hundredth time.


            mae'n enw ydy mwnci
      • As the first person to reply to what was clearly a bad pun for the sake of fun, let me point out that it is not racism. Racism would be something like, "Welsh people have no sense of humor -- probably because they are so pale." But, since they picked up the torch with that delightful new Doctor Who series, they must have some sort of sense of humor (if not melanin). Artificially confusing "Wales" with "whales" is really, in fact, making fun of the English language. Homonyms are fun. And so are palindromes.
      • I'm sorry. Gosh you Brits are touchy. Haha, no, Not only do I know about Wales, I also know you get horribly offended being called British. Seriously, I'd love to visit someday, make a tour of England, Scotland, & Wales. I wasn't trying to put you down, really!
        • I do not think you do know, but here is not the place to discuss it. Nothing that an american could write or say would "put down" any European. I am a Scot who lives in Wales and is of French descent. Please do visit Europe and enjoy the huge diversity of lculture and language that the continent has to offer. Going back a few years, most citizens of the USA found Europeans to be most welcoming. However, Europe has had such a public battering from your current Bush that it is actually percolating down to
          • I lived in Crete for a year. I visited London for a month. I know more than most Americans do about Europe. I despise Bush. I fear for where my country is going and have tried my damndest to do something about it. I wasn't trivializing Wales. I made a bad pun, nothing to do with trivialising Wales, to be honest, I was trying to make fun of ignorant Americans who probably don't even have a clue that there is a place named Wales somewhere in the world. So please get off your high horse before I start making f
          • You sound like the Kazakhstanis that think Borat is an attack on them, and not an attack of the ignorance of others.

            When I watch a bunch of Texans singing "throw the Jew done the well" I do not think Kazakhstanis hate Jews, I feel sad for my countrymen and at the same time arrogently supperior in a funny way, but nothing negative to Kazakhstan.

            If you could find a pun that attacked America I would be perfectly content (as long as it was punny)

            If I were you <a href="
          • I'm from Zimbabwe and of Irish descent and I know what it is to be put down and joked about - it's something that everyone tries to do to everyone and based on many things and not only nationality.

            It is much much harder to not ever put anyone else down than it is to complain when people do it to you. i.e. people always notice insults to themselves and ignore their own insults to others.

            If you can honestly get rid of your prejudgement of Americans then you have some right to ask for the same lack of prejud
      • Confusing Whales and Wales, which is a stinky semi-autonomous country somewhere in Europe where no one brushes their teeth and everyone marries their sister, is insulting to our sea going friends. It is really just cetaceanism. Just because they live in the sea does not mean they should be subject to snide quips. The comments are below the level I normally browse Slashdot at. Nice sig though...
      • And people wonder why the Welsh have a reputation for having no sense of humour. Next thing you know you'll be complaining about the Pot Noodle ads. Oh, hang on... Wales: The land that brought you Goldie Looking Chain, which is no bad thing.
      • For those (especially in North America) who lack education, Wales is a small western European country of about 3.5 million people.

        To be correct, Wales is a small western European principality of about 2.9 million people.

        It's a principality because it's controlled by the first-born son of the English monarch, and has been since the 13th century. To be technically correct, Wales is a province of England, rather than a country in itself. Sort of like Hawaii or Puerto Rico is to America.

  • The IT Parallel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:37PM (#15496960)
    Asked to speculate on why other big phone companies have been reluctant to embrace open standards, Reynolds demurs, but suggests that openness makes BT's strategy less risky, not more. "You get more people's intellectual capital," he says.

    There is a parallel here to the IT world ... and I'll give you a hint: Microsoft would make a great big phone company.
    • I would not be surprised to see the set-up and laws are slanted towards MS.
    • There is a parallel here to the IT world ... and I'll give you a hint: Microsoft would make a great big phone company.

      You're right. They would have produced some great-big phones alright. Gargantuan no less. It would still be a rotaty phone, it would take three people to dial it, and for no good reason, it would disconnet your calls at random. And, it wouldn't work with any non-Microsoft phones. You'd need to talk to your friends in an obscure dialect of Swahili, but soon, everyone would be speaking th

  • on BT... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:39PM (#15496978) Journal
    ...My mum's husband works for BT as some kind of manager/organiser; he was telling me that they had been at a team meeting about a year ago where they were looking at replacing the current phone system with ultra high band VOIP. They were also taking about putting television content down the line as well... I don't know when they were thinking of trying to get this sytem out but it sounded interesting
    • I am not too sure.
      VOIP shouldnt have any say in this.
      VOIP is primarily bearer channel, while for providing services etc, the signalling channel is what is important.

      But it is true that signalling protocols are also changing for the better.
      Instead of the TDM based ISUP [] etc, the movement is towards SIP [], which should help.

      Mind you, this is not a new thing. SIP was completely ready by 2000 itself. Only that it is now everybody is moving towards it.
    • They were also taking about putting television content down the line as well...

      If so, they can set it up so it can be viewed on sets that haven't the ability to receive broadcasts. Won't that make the TV license people happy!

    • I was surprised to learn that BT arent actually the number 1 provider of Internet Access to businesses in the UK, actually its Verizon through their UUNET/MCI/Worldcom acquisition last year. The info on exactly who owns what part of that market is here [] (registration required).
    • Are you referring to the "21st Century Networks" project? I don't know that much about it either, but I have a friend who is working on it as a contractor for BT and he thinks the whole thing is a big waste of time. It seems to be some hugely over-ambitious project to replace the whole PSTN network with some kind of spooky half-circuit/half-packet switched network that's kinda like VoIP but not quite. Anyway, as I said before, I don't know much about it :)
      • I worked there too for a while (student placement).

        21CN is basically running fiberoptic cable to the green box at the end of your road, and you only use ADSL as far as that box. That'll let you get much faster speeds than ADSL does currently, and it won't matter how far you are from the exchange. In the longer term they may even run fiberoptic straight into your house.

        Once they've done that they'll move the entire phone network onto running over a network using the IP protocol (they've already done this for
        • The 21 Century Network sounds very VDSL to me. I don't see why the 21CN is very special. The telecom operators in Belgium and the Netherlands already provide television service over their ADSL2 networks. Belgacom, the Belgian operator, already has VDSL in service and KPN, the Dutch operator, will roll-out VDSL at the end of this year or next year.
    • They were also taking about putting television content down the line as well... I don't know when they were thinking of trying to get this sytem out but it sounded interesting
      BT's TV-down-a-wire project is called BT vision, info at []
      The clever thing about it is that is integrates video-on-demand coming down a wire with on-air content via Freeview ("Freeview" is the UK's name for digital terrestrial TV).
      Translation: if you want to watch a movie on demand, it comes down your AD
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:40PM (#15496989) Homepage Journal
    The future of everything is in Cardiff, really. And so is the past. All bundled up in a police box with a flashing blue light on the top...

  • Other way ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by earthstar ( 748263 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:41PM (#15497009) Journal
    the phone has the potential to become more like the Internet

    Is it not the other way ?
    Infact ,

    (British Telecom) the incumbent phone company in the United Kingdom, is planning to shut off all of its legacy phone networks - a hodge podge of systems that includes the traditional "circuit switched" system that has served as the architecture for delivering phone calls for more than a century - by 2010
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This will not be an open system because of the stupid laws that have been passed in the UK. As soon as someone attempts to use the system for something innovative or query the system they will be charged with a computer crime.
  • This is good? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:45PM (#15497043) Homepage
    "the phone has the potential to become more like the Internet with its proliferation of cool new Web sites, tools and services."

    ...spam, phishing, viruses, DDOS, adverts....
  • From the article

    Right now, for example, most of the mildly interesting stuff consumers can do with their phones - call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding - is programmed right into the big computers that route calls around the network. That makes it impossible for some some teenager tinkering at his computer to develop a new phone service.

    Not exactly.
    Heard about IN [] or CAMEL [] ??
    These were all designed as a way to take the power out from switches and provide a database which can be used by small switches.
    • And what I want to see is how they are going to provide Lawful Intercept using the new platform.

      If anything, an ip based system will make it easier..far far do wiretaps. it can all be done online and remotely as needed.

      Hell, the phone system where I work has this capability. I can call up, enter my password and listen in on any zap line. Easy to program too.
  • This is the last big battle to control the ones and zeros that enter your house.

    In the very near future there will be one pipe that pump all the bits into and out of your house, be it video, phone, audio, internet or just your house alarm.

    And I bet the conduit will not be a couple of copper wires. Telephone, you are so 19th century....

  • Blimey... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Clazzy ( 958719 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:54PM (#15497128)
    I never expected sheep and mountains to be the future of telecom. Scientists nowadays, eh?
    • Very odd to see Wales on Slashdot
      • Over the last few years there has been a lot of funding poured into technology-related businesses in South Wales. The infrastructure is there - both cable and ADSL are available in and around the major habitations, and if you are in one of the Techniums then you may be able to connect to the South Wales Metropolitan Area Network (a 10Gbit backbone that goes along the south coast; I've got a couple of machines on 1GBit links connected to it).

        The Welsh Development Agency (which is now part of the Welsh As

    • by dr_dank ( 472072 )
      leaps into the room in red garb

      NOBODY expects the sheep and mountains!
  • by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @03:55PM (#15497137)

    There's a problem here, we already have an open standards based telephony standard, that allows custom application developers and users to customize their telephones.

    "This is no small thing. Right now, for example, most of the mildly interesting stuff consumers can do with their phones - call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding - is programmed right into the big computers that route calls around the network. That makes it virtually impossible for some entrepreneur in a garage or some teenager tinkering at his computer to develop a new phone service."

    While on the other hand, with SIP and IAX you can do whatever you want.. today! As we speak I have an Asterisk server with a Cepstral auto attendant connected to a PSTN gateway.. Voicemail. call forwarding, location tracking (e.g. at lunch it directs calls to my mobile/cell phone).

    Knowing BT's history with pricing and service quality I'd stay fairly clear from this. (For the record, BT's customer support and internet services are appallingly bad, and compared to existing SIP to PSTN or even Skype their international calling rates are very high).

    BT's problems are deeply routed in the way they do business with their infrastructure services, to mention a few: price fixing and their 'modular' internal structure... In short it means everybody offers ADSL at the same price, apart from them.. and their Billing, Broadband, Dialup and Telephone departments seem to rely in pidgeons or paper cups on strings to communicate with each other!

    Just my two pennies.

    • by gpuk ( 712102 )
      BT is a huge corporation. You need to make a distinction between their various retail arms and their network/infrastructure arm.

      BT retail is appaulingly bad and the criticisms you make are all valid.

      However, the network/infrastructure arm of BT is among the best in the world.

      Thanks to BT:
      1). The UK enjoys 99% ADSL coverage
      2). The UK has the deapest ADSL penetration in Europe ( _france_uk/)
      3). Thanks to the recent successfull rollout of MAX DSL you can now get
  • Pot Noodles (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:02PM (#15497197)
    At least it will create work for all those redundant pot noodle miners.
  • Somehow I doubt it will create a rival to the internet, but to see the telecoms companies finally upgrading the basic abilities of the phone is good, they have been complacent in the past and they were risking the whole market share of the phone (after the proliferation of mobiles and services such as Skype). Hopefully they will keep up this creativity and be rewarded for it by the consumers.
    • This isn't supposed to be a rival to the internet, but instead to make telephony and other data services (including TV) more like the internet. RTFA.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:06PM (#15497235) Homepage Journal
    The measure is primarily backed by a Mr. Jonah and a Mr. Ahab, two men who claim lots of experience with Wales.
  • It's one thing to tout the capabilities of a future system, and it's quite another to put it into practice and deliver the goods. I'm reading a book called "Making Change Stick", by Richard C. Reale, and wanted to quote a couple of sentence from it, which apply nicely to this:

    "The key question is, why does change so often fail to stick? On closer examination perhaps it's not that we regressed but rather that the change was more illusion than reality. We painted a few eggs gold in the expectation that th

  • Check out: ynolds/ [] and /0,39020427,39220184,00.htm []

    And there's been plenty more discussion about this online and in the UK media. Probably been posted or commented on here too...
  • by stunt_penguin ( 906223 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @04:53PM (#15497616)
    I've been saying for a long time that the means by which data will go in and and out of our homes and businesses is going to just boil down to one means, and that'll either be a single copper or optical wire with a router at the end, or a dish that communucates with a mast a few miles away.
    Living in Ireland at the moment , I've got a telephone line (which i'm soon dropping), cable internet, and a satellite TV dish all sending and receiving data at various times. They're all branded under different names etc- NTL, Sky, Eirom etc, but they;re all just doing the same thing. All these people are doing is selling me different ways of getting information in and out of here, and they're charging me a combined total of about 100 a month to do it, too.

    The sooner someone can give me a line that will serve my internet, telephony and TV needs with one 50 a month connection the better.

    It seems we pay so much for our data connections, and very little for the content. That missing 50 that would no longer be leaving my pocket for the shareholders of various telecoms every month would do very nicely in the pockets of content providers, whose channels I would be able to subscribe to and whose programmes would be downloaded to my hard disk while I sleep. Maybe then they'll be more content to let me watch their content without watching the commercials.

    Anyway my bottom line is- simpler infrastructures means less money paying for various telecoms, and more money left over every month to pay for subscriptions and content.
    • What about redundancy, in light of: backhoe operators, lightning, government wiretapping, corporate mismanagement, black hats, "phishers" (I hate that term), etc. do you think it's a good idea to have all of your connectivity through one provider? All of your eggs in one basket. The only way I would have it that way is if there was strong regulation by a non-government independent body with power and accountability of the actual physical wire. Then the wire will be "sold" based on the available bandwidt
    • by Nurgled ( 63197 )

      You do realise that NTL can already provide you with Telephone, TV and Internet service all down one line, right? :)

      • Don't forget Telewest - they'll even give you the TV in HiDef along with content on demand.
        • True, though they're not anywhere in Ireland AFAIK. That said, NTL and teh 'west are merging aren't they?

          *goes off to check facts*
          • I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Telewest has been going broke for a while now. So many of their franchise areas still don't have digital services because they can't afford to upgrade, and people leave them because they don't offer digital services, thus creating a vicious cycle of decline. A merger with NTL (or more likely, NTL just buying Telewest outright) seems very likely at this point.

            That said, I am operating on information from a couple of years back, since I used to live in one of the aforementio

      • Yea but their TV service sucks the sweat off of a donkey's balls around here- they've got a shitty remote control and user interface, their programme guide only goes to midnight that night (even if it's 11.30 at night you can only see the next programme or two), their video quality on some minor stations is quite frankly shocking and they accidentally cut me off in the middle of a Grand Prix weekend when they went to disconnect someone else at the same box.

        The eircom line was something I got to get broa
  • Hi tech phones eh? Hmm..I can see it now: my home phone having an 8 megapixel camera so I can lift it up and take a picture of the postman as he drops off my mail, or maybe an artistic one of the shelf on the wall in the hallway.
  • New applications for phones.....I could design a new application for a phone. I'd call it the somebody answers the phone facility. It works like phone a bank or a store or an IT support department and you press a magic button on the phone and somebody answers you. A real person that is...not a mindless message asking you to press a combination of buttons. Phil
  • Oh great! (Score:3, Funny)

    by tweek ( 18111 ) on Thursday June 08, 2006 @05:32PM (#15497924) Homepage Journal

    Wasn't Blaidd Drwg enough of a warning?

    What, are they going to call it "Raxacoricofallapatorian Telecom"?
  • Jeezo. Why can't we just have a system that just makes phonecalls? Why does everything have to be applicable? I want to be able to phone someone or have them phone me. I don't want to suffer from someone else's idea of an application.
  • One would hope its IP6 but the article doesn't state this. Does anyone
    happen to know.

    Also will it be using the SCTP/IP protocol which was specifically
    designed for telecoms or something they've rolled themselves on top
    of IP?

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!