118 exchange areas to be targeted in analogue switch off
The stop sell period for Mildenhall (mixed technology FTTC/FTTP) and Salisbury (Full Fibre) for old fashioned analogue copper based technologies kicks in in December 2020. As part of the move towards accelerating the switch off of PSTN/WLR services and moving to a modern all IP world Openreach has provided a list of 118 exchange areas where in June 2020 it will provide the required 12 months notice that in June 2021 they will stop connecting traditional telephone lines to the WLR hardware in telephone exchanges.
The areas announced are planned by June 2021 to all have at least 75% of premises passed by full fibre (FTTP) and therefore the switch off will be a key driver for pushing high take-up rates of full fibre. The Mildenhall mixed technology that will use VDSL2 and G.fast as well as FTTP means that even for those without FTTP available will have other IP based solutions available.
We are 24 hours later than others in publishing this news, the reason being it arrived while we were already busy with the daily FTTP tracking and needed to update the exchange level coverage figures overnight which had not been updated for a week.
The WLR withdrawal is an industry wide process, since while Openreach are withdrawing an old product the onus for the new services is on the wholesalers and retailers. This means that we expect the retailers taking part to build into their broadband routers the IP telephone service and present it to the public via a traditional phone socket on the router. The fact it is essentially a VoIP product will be transparent to the public at large and while some providers may force people to use their supplied router for ease of support others may offer a more traditional Ethernet based ATA to allow customers a choice of broadband router.
|Exchange||Exchange Code||Openreach FTTP Availability||Openreach Ultrafast G.fast and FTTP|
Over 100 Mbps
|Coverage figures from thinkbroadband dataset 14th May 2020|
|Great Bernera||NSGRE||100% (typo previously)||100% (typo previously)|
Clearly some areas are well above the 75% full fibre trigger level Openreach has set and with 12 months to go there is plenty of time to roll-out more FTTP in those exchanges below the target level.
There are always questions about the new digital voice services and a few quick notes on the most common issues we see raised:
- If you need the phone to work in a power cut you will need a UPS system that can power the Fibre ONT and ISP router. Many people only have DECT handsets today so would be in a similar situation during a power cut and there is also the mobile phone network available. For vulnerable customers providers may offer battery backup solutions.
- There is no need to take a broadband service, a low bandwidth (0.5 Mbps) FTTP service exists priced as a line rental replacement product to support just digital voice services.
- Will I be able to have broadband from one provider and voice from another? This one is trickier and will depend on what the voice providers decide to offer, some may embrace standalone ATA devices.
- While some retailers may bundle in special handsets with extra digital services, the widespread expectation is that digital voice will invariably support plugging in the existing telephone handsets you already own.
A lot of the ifs and buts will be worked out during the Salisbury and Mildenhall trials. We suspect that operators such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone once they launch their Openreach FTTP based services later in 2020 may launch with the digital voice service available in their routers.
Correction 18th May 2020 The figures for Great Bernera were incorrect. In copying across the data from our database into the news article we copied 41% from the exchange Bowmansgreen rather than the 100% for Great Bernera. Mistake seems to have arose the exchange code NSGRE also showing up in the word Bowmansgreen and not spotting the search had returned two exchanges when doing the original copy.