Broadband News

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 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.

ExchangeExchange CodeOpenreach FTTP AvailabilityOpenreach Ultrafast and FTTP
Over 100 Mbps
Coverage figures from thinkbroadband dataset 14th May 2020
Abbeyhill ESABB 67.6% 67.6%
Achnasheen NSASN 93.3% 93.3%
Allestree Park EMALLES 0% 28.3%
Altnaharra NSALT 93.1% 93.1%
Arley MRARL 39.6% 39.6%
Aultguish NSALG 93.8% 93.8%
Be/Ballysillan NIBYS 87.9% 87.9%
Be/City NICTY 53.3% 53.3%
Beacon CMBEAC 94.6% 98%
Bearwood CMBEAR 2% 2%
Belfast Balmoral NIBML 70.2% 70.2%
Belfast Cregagh NICRG 87.4% 87.4%
Belfast East NIEAS 73.7% 73.7%
Belfast Fortwilliam NIFWM 86.1% 86.1%
Belfast Knock NIKNK 90.3% 90.3%
Belfast Malone NIMAL 73.7% 73.7%
Belfast North NINTH 62.7% 62.7%
Belfast Ormeau NIORM 73.5% 73.5%
Belfast Stormont NISTM 61.4% 61.4%
Belsay NEBLS 85.9% 85.9%
Birchfield CMBIR 90.5% 90.5%
Bishopsworth SSBIS 38.8% 38.8%
Bontddu WNBON 77.5% 77.5%
Bonvilston SWBJY 99.1% 99.1%
Boreham EABOR 11.1% 11.1%
Boreland WSBOR 31.7% 31.7%
Bridgemere WMBGM 78.3% 78.3%
Burgh Heath LSBURH 13.7% 13.7%
Burleygate WNBGT 78.6% 78.6%
Caergwrle WNCAG 90.3% 90.3%
Canon Pyon WNCP 73.1% 73.1%
Cantley SLCLY 36% 36%
Canworthy Water WWCANW 99.4% 99.4%
Carryduff NICF 5.1% 5.1%
Catforth LCCAT 78.2% 78.2%
Childwall LVCHI 90.7% 90.7%
Chineham THCHN 0% 0%
Claughton LVCLA 26.1% 26.1%
Coads Green WWCOAD 83.3% 83.3%
Corstorphine ESCOR 85.5% 89.6%
Cranfield SMCR 72% 72%
Cressington LVCRE 1.4% 1.4%
Crookham ESCRO 75.4% 75.4%
Crosthwaite LCCHE 82.7% 82.7%
Dagenham LNDAG 84.7% 84.7%
Daviot NSDAV 78.5% 78.5%
Deddington SMDD 97.3% 97.3%
Dundonald NIDLD 56.7% 56.7%
Earlsdon CMEARD 83.3% 83.3%
East Marden SDSTMRD 98.5% 98.5%
Eccles MRECC 80.9% 80.9%
Ewell LSEWE 21.6% 21.6%
Failsworth MRFAI 35.7% 35.7%
Flockton MYFLO 84.2% 84.2%
Gants Hill LNGHL 55.9% 55.9%
Gateacre LVGAT 0.3% 0.3%
Gedling EMGDDLI 85.8% 86.4%
Gosforth NEGF 20.6% 54.8%
Great Bernera NSGRE 100% (typo previously) 100% (typo previously)
Great Crosby LVGRE 82.3% 82.3%
Harborne CMHARBO 0% 0%
Harehills MYHHL 85% 85%
Harewood End WNHAE 96.8% 96.8%
Hatch End LWHAT 1.4% 1.4%
Headingley MYHEA 80.9% 86.6%
Highbury CMHIGH 56.5% 56.5%
Horsforth MYHSF 1.3% 1.3%
Hulme Hall MRHUL 3.9% 3.9%
Kentford EAKEN 66.4% 74.9%
Kenton Road LWKROA 87.7% 87.7%
Keresley CMKER 0.8% 0.8%
Kilmarnock WSKIL 25.7% 25.7%
Lanreath WWLANR 98.8% 98.8%
Lempitlaw ESLEM 100% 100%
Llandegla WNLDA 87.5% 87.5%
Mayals SWMYS 0.6% 20.4%
Merton Park LSMEPK 77.9% 77.9%
Mickle Trafford WNMT 58.7% 58.7%
Morley MYMOR 75.1% 82.5%
Otterham Station WWOSTN 91.7% 91.7%
Padstow WWPADS 79.5% 79.5%
Parbold LCPAR 80.9% 80.9%
Pinhoe WWPINH 6.4% 6.4%
Prestwich MRPRE 0% 0%
Radcliffe MRRAD 84.4% 84.4%
Radford CMRAD 93.1% 93.1%
Ringford WSRIN 90.2% 90.2%
Rock Ferry LVROC 0.9% 0.9%
Rumford WWRUMF 87.4% 87.4%
Salisbury STSALIS 85.2% 85.2%
Sefton Park LVSEF 92.9% 93.9%
Sheldon CMSHEL 89.6% 89.6%
Sherwood EMSHRWO 6.4% 6.4%
Solihull CMSOL 2.2% 13.3%
South SSSOU 87.2% 87.2%
Southwick WSSOK 62.3% 62.3%
Springfield CMSPR 79% 79%
St Buryan WWSBUR 99.2% 99.2%
Stechford CMSTE 87.8% 87.8%
Stoneycroft LVSTO 90.1% 90.1%
Streetly CMSTRE 79% 85.3%
Sully SWXUU 0% 0%
Sutton SDSTTN 31.2% 31.2%
Swansea SWSX 57% 79.7%
Swinton MRSWI 88.4% 88.4%
Tarporley WNTAR 68.1% 68.1%
Tile Hill CMTIL 62.7% 62.7%
Toothill SSTHL 0.7% 36.5%
Trentside EMTRENT 5.7% 43.2%
Tresillian WWTRES 76.9% 76.9%
Tudweiliog WNTUD 88.8% 88.8%
Walkden MRWAL 89.1% 89.1%
Wallasey LVWAL 85.9% 85.9%
Westbury-On-Trym SSWOT 0% 0%
Wettenhall WMWET 90.2% 90.2%
Whitchurch SWWXC 83.7% 91.1%
Whiteabbey NIWBY 66.9% 66.9%
Whitefield MRWHI 2% 2%

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.


I believe that Openreach FVA is now obsolete. I've never had the service but what does this mean for the telephone jack on my Openreach FTTP ONT - is this now useless for the services that we are now meant to use for fibre-based telephony? As far as I can see, the ONT jack is outside your broadband account as it comes "before" the router and its login, so it's on the FTTP line itself. Will I have to have an ATA, and where does that plug in - between the ONT and the router or does it hang off the router?

  • csimon
  • 6 months ago

Yes, you will need an ATA. Either plugged into you router or built in like the Smart Hubs

  • ribble
  • 6 months ago

Some CP(s) offer IP dect phones for their 'digital voice'service therefore you can use the supplied handset on any third party router. Of course the downside to this is that you can't use your own phone, whether IP based or analogue as the CP will tell you to bog off if you ask for your SIP account details.

  • baby_frogmella
  • 6 months ago

Although Openreach launched the 0.5/0.5 FTTP product towards the end of March, the equivalent SOGEA product has been pushed back until July.

The wholesale price appears to be the same as a WLR3 line rental, so the costs to a communications provider will be greater. An existing WLR3 connection will provide a phone socket and number, whereas a 0.5/0.5 FTTP or SOGEA "line" will require ethernet handover & backhaul, a phone number and at the minimum an ATA (potentially also a router if the ATA cannot do PPPoE itself, and modem for non-FTTP connections). Can't see this not being passed on.

  • tdw42
  • 6 months ago

So the old phone system which will work in a power cut, is being replaced by one that needs a battery backup, great idea.
While I do have a Voip phone and use and not my landline, I do have a normal phone connected to the landline just in case.
At least we will not have to worry about it as the chance of getting FTTP here in the next 15 years is pretty slim.
Also, what is going to happen to people using FTTC with a provider who don't offer FTTP?

  • zyborg47
  • 6 months ago

Zyborg, same for those on FTTC or as FTTP. Phone over the broadbans using an ATA, either built into a router or seperate.

  • ribble
  • 6 months ago

Not great for resilience. The cell-phone sites fall over after 3 hours of power cut; the Emergency Services Network will do the same, assuming the ministerial decision to allow this has now been signed, the FTTC cabinets fall over after 3 hours; FTTP falls over after your UPS runs out. Lest anyone thinks this is a theoretical difficulty, I suggest take a look at what happened in the Lancaster floods.

  • aseeds
  • 6 months ago

FTTC cabinets should last a lot longer than 3 hours on batteries.

  • ribble
  • 6 months ago

I wonder if alot will just use this as a reason to ditch their phoneline in favour of using their mobile instead? Less and less home users seem reliant on a fixed phone line these days for calls

  • bobblebob
  • 6 months ago

@Ribble, I am not on about the broadband side, I am on about the phone side, if we need to phone out in an emergency and power is lost. I myself would get rid of my landline if I could like I did before, but I sure some people like it for security in that they can rely on it more than mobile. The idea of having some battery back up in the house to keep a phone going is stupid.

  • zyborg47
  • 6 months ago

@zyborg47 - Mobile operators offer 99% coverage for basic 2G to make calls. Also aslong as mobiles can pick up any signal even from another network they can make 999 calls.

And although i dont know the numbers, id imagine the uptime for the powergrid to be 99% or thereabouts. So you would have to be unlucky to not have some means of communication.

Alot of land lines phones these days require power anyway. Ours does

  • bobblebob
  • 6 months ago

I'm in the Sully exchange area which is listed above as 0% FTTP and 0% G.Fast - the only works going on locally currently seems to be to provide services to a new 400 house estate being built on the outskirts of the village. Can't see how they are going to get us all switched over in 13 months. I couldn't even get on to FTTC when I looked about 6 months ago ,due to lack of capacity!!

  • 6 months ago

@bobblebob, what you forget is that a home phone will send your number to the emergency services, so they will know where you are as far as I know the emergency services still can not tell where a mobile phone is.

  • zyborg47
  • 6 months ago

The emergency services can find out where your mobile is but it takes time. Apps like What3Words come in handy for giving location if you can talk though.

  • DanielCoffey
  • 6 months ago

It takes time, with landlines it doesn't take time. I heard of the What3Words app, looks like a good idea, but it dpends how much infgo is sent to the app producers.

  • zyborg47
  • 6 months ago
If you call 99 using android, your GPS location will be sent, iphone has an app for that..

Most people now have a mobile phone instead of a landline, due to expensive line rental schemes...

  • comnut
  • 6 months ago

But understand that the mobile base stations only have battery back-up and so there is no mobile service after a power cut of 3 hours or so. With no back-up on FTTH, after 3 hours there is no means of emergency communication. The emergency services network- if and when it gets into service- will also cease to work after 3 hours.

  • aseeds
  • 6 months ago

3 hour powercuts are pretty rare tho

  • bobblebob
  • 6 months ago

"3 hour power cuts are pretty rare tho". Of no comfort to those needing to contact an emergency service when that happens. If you have not purchased a basic corded phone for when all else fails, more fool you. Now that safety net of an always on service (well 99.99%) is to disappear. More collateral damage and lives unnecessary lost will be the consequences.

  • trolleybus
  • 6 months ago

I will bet mobile base stations will have a battery upgrade if needed, and also most mains failures are limited in area - I am sure you have seen some shops have lighting, but no mains.. three phase helps with this..

  • comnut
  • 6 months ago

The availability target is 5 9s - 99.999% available. This is achievable through a combination of FTTP + cellular.

Regarding the 'safety net' of always on services it's worth remembering that millions of homes in the UK are served by landlines with a single point of failure - MPF / fully unbundled lines can and do go into equipment that's a single fibre cut away from going down until that fibre is repaired.

Resiliency increasingly comes from redundant access rather than single access and many redundant components - see RAID, SDN, etc.

  • CarlThomas
  • 6 months ago

"3 hour power cuts are pretty rare" The good citizens of Lancaster will politely disagree. Fortunately the TETRA emergency services system had maintained power and kept going, as did most of the fixed lines. Take a look at:

  • aseeds
  • 6 months ago

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