Chelsea exchange to close in 2018
Moving thousands of phone lines from one exchange to another is not an overnight task and with the news that the Chelsea exchange (WRCHEL) is due to close by early 2018, Openreach has announced a rough timeline that will see telephone lines gradually moving starting in the Autumn to the South Kensington exchange (WRSKEN) which is roughly 1.2km away.
For those already using a VDSL2 service the impact on their broadband should be nil, since South Kensington is where the fibre from the cabinets already heads to, and the disruption on phone services should be minimal as changes are set to be done overnight.
For those who have resisted the move to VDSL/FTTC so far the change may add 1.2 to 1.5km of copper to the distance the ADSL2+ has to travel (the Chelsea exchange has a Sky and TalkTalk LLU presence too) thus reducing speeds. To encourage as many people as possible to upgrade earlier rather than later to FTTC there is a special offer for providers selling to customers in the Chelsea exchange area, with a free self install or just £50+VAT for a managed install (i.e. engineer visit) plus the bonus of the service being free for the first six months on all VDSL2 speeds. This offer only applies for orders received by Openreach during the period 1st July to 30th September 2016 and you have to be an existing ADSL2+ customer upgrading to VDSL2. Hopefully providers will make use of the offer and pass on savings.
At present not all of the Chelsea exchange has access to VDSL2 as some cabinets are not enabled and the age old problem of exchange only lines exists, our understanding is that all the cabinets are now on a timeline to being live, with some expected over the next few months and others including new cabinets for exchange only lines looking at a time frame of 9 to 12 months.
We have made enquiries to find out how the copper move will be done, since for cabinets already close to the South Kensington exchange if the copper is redirected close to the cabinet a good number of people may see little or no change in their ADSL2+ speeds. It will also be useful to know if the copper is expected to go from cabinets direct to South Kensington or will the routing go via pavement chambers near to the old Chelsea exchange location as we can then better predict the ADSL2+ speeds in the area after the move.
Update 7pm Okay took a while to get our answer as it was the question that needed Openreach to go away and find the answer. The copper telephone lines will be redirected to the South Kensington exchange via a location near to the existing Chelsea exchange. This means almost everyone still on an ADSL/ADSL2+ service will see an increase in attenuation (line length) and thus a reduction in connection speed.