Openreach in Salisbury stops selling copper based services - updated
Salisbury is the pilot for the eventual retirement of the Openreach copper network and anyone in the exchange area now upgrading, regrading or switching their broadband or telephone provider they will only be able to order FTTP (full fibre) products.
Salisbury is now one of the best-connected places in the UK and we want everyone in the city to benefit from our investment.
Full Fibre is more reliable and faster so can help us do much more online in a more efficient way. Our new network is future-proofed so will be ready for the next wave of bandwidth hungry applications which residents and businesses will demand so will serve Salisbury well for decades to come. We’re leading the way in the UK’s digital upgrade and this is just the beginning.
The traditional landline has served us well for generations, but it can’t go on indefinitely - and by December 2025 it will have reached the end of its life. By September 2023 Openreach will stop selling copper-based products nationally in preparation for withdrawal at the end of 2025.James Tappenden, Openreach’s Fibre First Director
Openreach claims the city is the first entire city to gain access to the Openreach full fibre platform BUT our data suggests that it is not the entire city just yet, e.g. the four flats of Weavers Mews in SP1 3RF don't have access to Openreach FTTP (they do have Virgin Media cable access so are far from being slow). There are more locations without FTTP across the city and based on our number crunching run on 17th November, the total then was some 24,483 premises (96.49% of Salisbury exchange area). We looked at the exchange last week but did not re-trigger the exchange level figures, but will update article by Wednesday morning.
Update 7pm: The number crunching has finished and Salisbury is now at 96.65% Openreach FTTP coverage i.e. 24,528 premises.
Anyone who has no interest in broadband or FTTP does not need to do anything, since nothing will change for now if you remain with your existing voice provider or broadband provider. Obviously if using VDSL2 upgrading to FTTP even on the same speed tier will bring improved connection reliability and for those not getting the maximum VDSL2 speeds they will see some speed improvement. Obviously those taking a voice and broadband from Virgin Media are not affected by any of the Openreach changes.
There is an Openreach page dedicated to the Salisbury pilot, that may help to answer some questions people have. Salisbury is a pilot so there are bound to be lessons learnt and it is only through actually doing all these switches that the answers will be learnt.
Assuming the pilot goes well and problems find resolutions the plan is to implement a stop sell across the UK in 2023, with a withdrawal starting in 2025. Clearly not all the UK Openreach network will have FTTP available to it by 2025, the current plan is for around 20 million premises for the mid to late 2020's, which is around two thirds of the UK. The IP voice services though can run over VDSL2.
We suspect that the stop sell and eventual withdrawal of copper voice will see a lot of people electing to switch to a data only broadband service. Retaining the existing phone number by porting it to a VoIP provider is not particular easy at present as porting the number usually ends up causing a cease of broadband on the phone line, the solution is for more voice providers to support porting with renumbering i.e. the regulations and processes need to catch up to what we expect an increasing number of people will do i.e. move historic numbers to a cheap VoIP service that can be answered anywhere that VoIP can be made to work.
Update 7pm: As we know some people mix and match their voice and broadband providers so we asked a question of Openreach what would happen if someone in Salisbury was to switch their voice service to another provider that was not their broadband provider. The answer is that this switch would trigger the upgrade to FTTP and the existing xDSL broadband service (assuming FTTP is available) would be moved to a FTTP one (obviously with knowledge of the broadband provider). Since there can only be one GEA-FTTP service this would mean that to deliver the voice service from a provider who is different to the broadband provider the voice provider would either have to roll-out its own voice ATA (or equivalent) or rent a wholesale voice product from the broadband provider. A voice ATA i.e. hardware device that handles VoIP sounds complicated but it should be pretty much plug and play for the consumer, more research and product development from the voice provider of course.
We suspect that this copper to full fibre switching process will see a good number of people reassess their need to retain a fixed line telephone number i.e. this will accelerate the decline of landline voice minutes.
As Salisbury is the pilot hopefully we will all learn quickly about how all the nuances will work in practice and no-one will see their broadband or telephone service unwittingly cut off.