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Events in telecommunications history

2006

11 January was the first day of operation for Openreach, the new part of BT created to deliver installation and maintenance services on behalf of Britain's telephone and internet service providers. On 22 January, the Undertakings from which Openreach was created became legally enforceable. [?link back to 2005 - Undertakings]

Actor Tom Baker (former Dr Who and narrator of comedy series Little Britain) became the voice of BT Text - a new service which lets people send and receive text messages on their home phone, 31 January - 30 April, with every text message sent to a landline delivered as a spoken message by Tom. Text messages sent and received by landlines soared by 69 per cent in the first 24 hours. Tom's voice was re-introduced in December for a charity fundraising initiative with 2p from every message going to Shelter.

BT and Eckoh Technologies provided a round-the-clock, speech-driven data capture service on 14 February enabling poultry owners to register their details with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Great Britain Poultry Register was instigated to boost Government and industry ability to effectively tackle potential outbreaks of avian flu.

On 7 March BT set up a free helpline for worried business customers who had been told by Cable & Wireless that they had 90 days in which to find a new supplier, as C&W focus activities on only 3,000 large business and government customers. BT offered those displaced businesses a dedicated team of advisors to understand their options and help them manage the unexpected requirement to move to another communications company with the minimum of hassle and disruption.

The Princess Royal officially opened a new extension to a facility used for testing military systems in March. BT was selected to design, build and operate the extension to the Land Systems Reference Centre (LSRC) at Blandford Camp on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

BT's 8Mb broadband option was launched on 4 April with download speeds of up to 8Mb and upload speeds of up to 448Kb for no extra cost to the customer.

On 11 May BT Group announced a world first - its development of a mobile phone service with the same functionality as an office fixed-line phone.

On 17 May BT announced agreements with six cities to become wireless pioneers. People in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff and Westminster would benefit from huge wireless networks. On the same day BT Openzone - BT's wireless broadband network offering was selected as the world's Best Service Provider at the prestigious Wireless Broadband Innovation (WBI) Awards.

In May 2006 Reading was the first area to receive the new look phone book. The restyled front cover was designed to make people more aware of its usefulness as a classified directory.

BT Home Hub was launched on 20 June. Designed to sit at the heart of the digital home, the Home Hub supports BT's full range of services including Total Broadband and Broadband Talk, connecting wirelessly to PCs and other broadband devices, and updating automatically.

Ofcom removed retail price controls on BT on 1 August. Control was imposed when BT was privatised in 1984 and the deregulation follows the conclusion of Ofcom's strategic review of telecommunications in September 2005 [?link] and a public consultation on the removal of retail price controls begun in March.

On 13 September BT signed a memorandum of understanding with China Netcom (CNC) to work together to provide communications services, especially broadcasting and media, for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

On 28 November the 21st century network, 21CN, went live in Cardiff. The first live phone call in the UK over the world's most advanced next generation network was made by eleven-year-old Laura Wess, from Wick and Marcross Church in Wales Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan.

BT Vision, the next generation television service was launched on 4 December, putting the viewer in control by combining the appeal of TV with the interactivity of broadband.

In 2006 BT completed the acquisition of Atlanet SpA, a Fiat subsidiary providing domestic telecommunications services to Fiat and other businesses; purchased dabs.com, one of the UK's leading internet retailers of IT and technology products; and announced a 50:50 equity joint venture between BT and KDDI, Japan's second largest full service telecoms operator. 

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