First Areas Where Copper Phones Lines Won't Be Available Announced
First Areas Where Copper Phones Lines Won't Be Available Announced by BT
Openreach (BT) has announced that they’re accelerating plans to move away from their old analogue phone (PSTN / WLR) services and on to a new all-IP network, which will see more than 118 UK exchange locations receiving over 75% coverage via their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP technology by June 2021.
At present there’s a lot of work going on behind-the-scenes in order to prepare the UK for two major changes. Firstly, the gradual migration of traditional voice (PSTN) services to all-IP technology (e.g. VoIP) by December 2025 – essential on “full fibre” lines where electrical signals are no longer used. Secondly, the complete switch-off of the copper network in favour of FTTP (phased but unlikely to be fully completed across the UK until many years after 2025).
Openreach have already started to adapt their existing copper line network to cope with IP based voice traffic (e.g. SOGEA), which should help to start the transition even before “full fibre” networks have become fully available to everybody. At the same time their FTTP network – currently covers 2.6 million premises (rising to 4.5m by March 2021) – is being backed by an investment of £12bn to reach 20 million UK premises by the “mid – to late-2020s” (here).
As part of this they’ve been conducting trials – Mildenhall (Suffolk) and Salisbury (Wiltshire) – with Ofcom of how the related migration processes for both of aforementioned changes could work. For example, in Salisbury the process for moving from copper to FTTP lines begins once 75% of premises in an exchange are able to receive their full fibre (target for this is 24 months after roll-out starts and copper switch-off might then occur c.3 years after / on top of that).
Under this approach such a process could start with a “no move back” policy for premises connected with FTTP, followed by a “stop-sell” of copper services to new customers and ultimately full withdrawal. One other result of this is that the operator will also stop providing their own voice products after around 2025 (i.e. shifting the responsibility for delivering this and VoIP on to broadband ISPs and wholesale providers).
However today’s announcement appears to go beyond those trials and suggests that Openreach are now confident enough in their new approach and FTTP roll-out to accelerate their plans, which has meant that they can bring forward their migration efforts at 118 selected exchange areas (i.e. where they plan to stop selling their legacy analogue services and instead focus on providing people with full fibre).
Mark Logan, Openreach Director of Products, said:
“We’re working with Communication Providers right now to support them and their customers – and to keep them updated and informed as we work through their migration plans. We’ll also be working closely with local authorities, councils, charities and trade organisations to help spread the word to consumers and businesses and our online fibre checker tool will be available to provide the very latest information – at a post code level – about when and where full fibre is ready to order.
We’re excited about this, but it’s just another step in what is a hugely complex national upgrade programme. We’re well aware that there’s a lot more work to do, so we’re here to help the industry make this migration a reality and work with our customers to deliver new products that meet their customers’ demands for decades to come.”
Under this plan Openreach said that, in June 2020, they intend to give 12-months’ notice that “we’ll no longer be selling copper-based products” in those exchanges areas, which will start the clock on their migration process toward the retirement of legacy phone services and, ultimately, copper withdrawal too (see illustration above). It’s expected that more than 75% of homes in these locations will be covered with FTTP come June 2021.
Various new products have been created to help ISPs and consumers deal with this process, such as a special low speed 0.5Mbps FTTP tier (here) that can be used to help cater for those homes which just require a voice-only service. However some people will no doubt find such a transition difficult (change is rarely easy) and much will depend upon whether or not customers are hit with any extra costs or hassle, as well as how ISPs handle it all.
Nevertheless the move to all-IP and FTTP networks is happening right across the world, where similar challenges have been faced and overcome. The UK is only at the beginning of this process (partly because our full fibre roll-out is so far behind other countries), but that should at least mean we can learn from any mistakes made elsewhere.
|Gants Hill||Greater London||LNGHL|
|Bishopsworth||Bristol, City of||SSBIS|
|Ewell||Epsom and Ewell||LSEWE|
|Burgh Heath||Reigate and Banstead||LSBURH|
|Gosforth||Newcastle upon Tyne||NEGF|
|Westbury-On-Trym||Bristol, City of||SSWOT|
|Hulme Hall||Greater Manchester||MRHUL|
|Hatch End||Three Rivers||LWHAT|
|Sully||Vale of Glamorgan||SWXUU|
|Whiteabbey||Antrim and Newtownabbey||NIWBY|
|Kenton Road||Greater London||LWKROA|
|South||Bristol, City of||SSSOU|
|Corstorphine||City of Edinburgh||ESCOR|
|Abbeyhill||City of Edinburgh||ESABB|
|Merton Park||Greater London||LSMEPK|
|Bonvilston||Vale of Glamorgan||SWBJY|
|Chineham||Basingstoke and Deane||THCHN|
|Boreland||Dumfries and Galloway||WSBOR|
|Arley||Cheshire West and Chester||MRARL|
|Great Bernera||Eilean Siar||NSGRE|
|Burleygate||Herefordshire, County of||WNBGT|
|Ringford||Dumfries and Galloway||WSRIN|
|Harewood End||Herefordshire, County of||WNHAE|
|Southwick||Dumfries and Galloway||WSSOK|
|Canon Pyon||Herefordshire, County of||WNCP|
|Tarporley||Cheshire West and Chester||WNTAR|
|Mickle Trafford||Cheshire West and Chester||WNMT|