The reaction to the annual or six monthly voice line rental price rises suggests that many will be pleased when they can finally ditch voice line rental and just pay a broadband subscription. It is possible that some form of 'naked DSL' is on the way from Openreach for its FTTC products.
"Openreach is consulting industry on a proposed new product currently known as “Single Order GEA”. It will give communications providers (CPs) purchasing its Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) product the option of placing a single, convenient order to provide customers with a fibre broadband service.
By building the underlying copper line into the product, CPs benefit from reduced complexity when ordering fibre broadband which is not coupled with a traditional voice service. CPs will have the option of introducing innovative IP based voice services for their customers.
The copper circuit from the exchange to the FTTC cabinet will be primarily used for line testing.
The new product will complement Openreach’s existing product portfolio, rather than replacing any of the current products.Openreach statement on Single Order GEA-FTTC
The single order FTTC product is just a proposal and whether it appears will depend now on what the big providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and BT Wholesale have to say. So until the proposals are firmed up there is likely to be no indication of pricing, while we expect something more expensive than standard GEA-FTTC pricing the addition should be less than the wholesale cost of voice line rental.
While the FTTC services are not symmetric the much improved upload speeds compared to ADSL2+ mean that even lines where speeds are not superfast should be perfectly capable of supporting several VoIP lines and with iOS 8 looking to support Voice over Wi-Fi and the attractiveness of call packages on services like Skype it is not just going to be early adopters shifting their call traffic to IP based systems.
Looking at the long term, we can envisage a time when many local telephone exchanges have been bypassed and may not exist at all, or just turn into a single small room for fibre interconnects back to a regional node.