BBC and BT partner for “next-generation” broadcast network

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by Stephen Chapman

The BBC has appointed BT to provide its broadcast network, to ensure it builds an “internet-fit” operation, including more interactive and personalised content.

The move should enable it to work with new and emerging data-hungry broadcast formats, like Ultra-HD and 360-degree content. The network would also allow extra services and capacity of major events, such as the general election and Olympics.

The contract with BT is worth more than £100m over 7 years, with an option to extend it by 3 further years. However, chief technology office, Matthew Postgate said that the move would save it millions:

“This is an important step towards building an internet-fit BBC and will allow us to provide more interactive and personalised content in the future. At a time when the BBC faces serious financial challenges, it will also save us tens of millions of pounds so we can focus more of our money on the programmes and services for licence fee payers.”

The network will link all the BBC sites across the UK, including local radio and connect its overseas bureaux for playout. It will carry all video, audio and data traffic as well as telephone, ISDN and broadband.

“We are delighted by the BBC’s decision to choose us as their next generation broadcast network partner. Both of our organisations have a vital part to play in making the best use of advanced technology to support and enable the ever-accelerating evolution of broadcast media,” added Mark Wilson-Dunn, global vice president of BT Media and Broadcast.

Vodafone is currently the BBC’s broadcast network provider and over the coming year, a transition will be made to BT. Vodafone will continue to provide a key data centre, telephony services and additional connectivity in London.