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Openreach Add 51 Areas to the Copper Phone to Fibre Migration

Monday, October 5th, 2020 (10:38 am) - Score 40,752
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Openreach (BT) has today named the next 51 UK exchange locations where they intend to move way from their old copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR) services and on to a new all-IP network, which will apply in areas that receive over 75% coverage via their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network.

Moving away from the old copper line telecoms network is a slow process, which starts with a gradual migration of traditional voice (PSTN) services to all-IP technologies (e.g. VoIP) by December 2025 (this is essential on pure fibre optic lines where light signals replace electrical ones). After that comes the complete switch-off of copper in favour of FTTP, which is likely to be a much longer process (you first have to deploy FTTP and then allow time for migration etc.).

NOTE: Openreach’s FTTP currently covers 3 million premises (rising to 4.5m by March 2021) and is being backed by £12bn to reach 20 million UK premises by the “mid – to late-2020s” (here).

Openreach have already started to adapt their existing copper network to cope with IP based voice traffic (e.g. SOGEA), which helps to start the transition even before FTTP networks have become fully available. Otherwise the process for moving from copper to FTTP lines begins once 75% of premises in an exchange are able to receive their full fibre (target for this is 24 months after roll-out starts and copper switch-off might then occur c.3 years after / on top of that).

Under this approach the process will start with a “no move back” policy for premises connected with FTTP (i.e. no going back to copper), followed by a “stop-sell” of copper services to new customers and ultimately full withdrawal. Openreach will also stop providing their own voice products after around 2025 – shifting the responsibility for delivering this and VoIP on to ISPs and wholesale providers.

The Next Batch

Back in the spring the operator announced the first 118 UK exchange locations where they would stop selling their old analogue phone services by June 2021 (here). Today they announced the next batch of 51 locations were this process will take place, covering around 510,000 premises from October 2021 (combining with the previously announced 118 exchanges takes this to 1.8 million premises by October 2021).

Mark Logan, Openreach’s Director of Products, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re stepping up our plans to stop selling our legacy analogue services and instead focus on providing people with a modern, future proof full fibre connection that can deliver all manner of new digital services over the top.

Our recently updated target to build full fibre broadband to 4.5m homes and businesses by end of March 2021 (up from 4m) is part of our accelerated build plan and has enabled migration efforts to also be brought forward.

Full Fibre or ‘Fibre to the Premises’ technology (FTTP) will be available to more than 75% of homes in these 51 new locations by October 2021, as it makes no sense – both operationally and commercially, to keep the old and new network running side-by-side.”

List of 51 new ‘stop sell’ exchanges and associated locations

EXCHANGE NAME Location SAUID
Armagh Armagh NIAM
Bangor Newtownards & Bangor NIBA
Barry Vale of Glamorgan SWCFK
Benton North Tyneside NEB
Bow Mid Devon WWBOW
Brentwood Brentwood EABRW
Broadstairs Thanet NDBRO
Bromsgrove Bromsgrove WMBPZ
Broxburn West Lothian ESBRO
Capheaton Northumberland NECAP
Cardinham Cornwall WWCARD
Caxton South Cambridgeshire EACAX
Cheylesmore Coventry CMCHEY
Doncaster Doncaster SLDC
Doncaster North Doncaster SLDCN
Dutton Diffeth Wrexham WNDD
Eastham Wirral LVEAS
Edwalton Rushcliffe EMEDWAL
Glendale Highland NSGDL
Halkyn Flintshire WNHAL
Hartburn Northumberland NEHR
Haydon Wick Swindon SSHYW
Hepple Northumberland NEHPL
Heriot Scottish Borders ESHER
How Caple Herefordshire, County of WNHCP
Ilford North Greater London LNILN
Lillingstonedayrell Aylesbury Vale SMLD
Linstead Suffolk Coastal EALIN
Llanfaethlu Isle of Anglesey WNLFU
Longridge Ribble Valley LCLON
Lurgan Craigavon NILG
Mountwood Wirral LVMOU
Newtonards Newtownards & Bangor NINTS
Orpington Greater London LSORP
Penzance Cornwall WWPENZ
Portadown Craigavon NIPO
Rickmansworth Three Rivers LWRIC
Saxmundham Suffolk Coastal EASXM
Stanecastle North Ayrshire WSIRS
Tadcaster Selby MYTAD
Thames Ditton Elmbridge LSTHDT
Thamesmead Greater London LSTHMD
Thornton Heath Greater London LSTHO
Waterloo Sefton LVWAT
Waternish Highland NSWNS
Wickford Basildon EAWFD
Winterton North Lincolnshire SLWKT
Wollaton Nottingham EMWOLLA
Woodgate Birmingham CMWDGT
Wythenshawe Greater Manchester MRWYT
Zelah Cornwall WWZELA

Leave a Comment
40 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    Excellent.

    Bit by bit and step by step the copper is going away. Overdue but still very welcome.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      The faster the copper is switched off the better for BT.

      This will mean that the copper from the exchange to the PCP can then be abandoned or removed from the ducts to make more space to BT to rent to others.

      I would be quite interested to know what BT plans to do about abandoning the exchanges, they don’t own them as they securities them last time they were in a pickle. The only thing is that all of the historical duct network runs to the exchanges and BT might need to retain the basements in some of the larger exchanges as there is so much fibre going through there.

    2. Avatar Roger says:

      I’m currently in a location that is being changed over to FTTP, the pole that feeds my property needed repair to the duct by the pole and while it was underway I noticed there was an unused feed cable with uncovered ends just lying in the ground. I had a chat with the O/R engineer in charge of the area for the installs and was told they would not be removing it as they could end up putting lines out of action.
      I could understand his concern when in a 170 meter run the ducting needed 7 sections repaired; it made me think about how much copper cable recovery going to be achieved.

    3. Avatar A_Builder says:

      I’d be surprised if much copper is recovered.

      The risks of yanking it out and damaging other things are massive

    4. Avatar joe says:

      Duct copper looks a headache. Overheads no probs…

      Not sure on exchanges. I know a company that takes over every old MOD bunker etc it can and uses them as secure data centres. Perhaps some of the larger exchanges might serve a similar function.

    5. Avatar Mike says:

      Either OR removes the copper or the thieves will.

  2. Avatar GNewton says:

    This is a tiny step in the right direction. However, in general these things should have happened many years ago. Assuming copper price of around £5,000 per tonne, BT’s copper could be worth between £2.5bn to £5bn.

    1. Avatar joe says:

      That would be fine if it wasn’t so expensive to recover much of that…

    2. Avatar The Facts says:

      @GN – sums please.

    3. Avatar GNewton says:

      @The Facts: “sums please.” £2.5bn to £5bn

      Any better estimates? Show us here!

    4. Avatar The Facts says:

      @GN – how did you calculate? Varying views in the past of the value, particularly as the copper has to be recovered from the installed cable.

    5. Avatar GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: You are welcome to dispute this figure if you have better sources, other than what was quoted in a recent ISPReview article, if you can be bothered to use Google. Why is it of any concern to you anyway?

    6. Avatar eyeball paul says:

      If Openreach don’t recover the copper the pokies will!

    7. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      But switching off PSTN isn’t the same as removing copper. The copper will still be needed to provide VoIP telephone services to properties that haven’t yet received FTTP connections – using products such as SOGEA. It will be decades before copper can be removed from most areas.

    8. Avatar The Facts says:

      @GN – full text:

      One estimate that we saw from Investec a few years ago suggested that BT’s copper (i.e. the bits that may actually be viable for removal), when adopting a price of around £5,000 per tonne, could be worth between £2.5bn to £5bn. As usual there are plenty of unknowns here, so take such figures with a pinch of salt.

      Removing cables from ducts with other cables in them is a risky activity.

    9. Avatar GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Good to see you finally made some research instead of just posting your lame questions here. The ISPReview article is at:

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/07/rising-copper-prices-are-a-double-edged-sword-for-uk-broadband.html

      @AnotherTim: All copper lines with have to be replaced with FTTP before copper can be removed.

  3. Avatar Jacob Northover says:

    Poole Dorset has still no news of full fiber it seems they have given up down here and still fitting new homes with the old copper lines. I’m lucky to have Virgin Media at my home but if I didn’t I would be stuck with 6MBps speeds which isn’t good for a home of 6 all using the Internet at the same time.

    Come on Openreach invest as I want more options then just VM I know loads people that would pay for full fiber service instead of the degraded adsl lines

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      How many are on ADSL but covered by FTTC?.

      Openreach are going where it makes strategic sense such as to the north in Verwood.

      Like it or not what happens to Poole depends on what happens in Bournemouth. Not only is Bournemouth and Poole very well covered currently by VM, City Fibre said back in March 2019 (commenced Feb 2020) that they were investing in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and there are nimble players around. In addition Bournemouth was supposed to be a 5G test bed and most of Poole and surrounding area already has outdoor 4G from one of the mobile providers.

      Openreach have obviously left Poole in their priorities. The issue is what level of coverage City Fibre will complete. For those on low FTTC or ADSL will have to wait.

  4. Avatar plunet says:

    Well, something is amiss here, because Rickmansworth has already been announced last year. In fact almost exactly a year ago on the 2nd October 2019 and was covered by ISPreview. So either buzby has got their wires crossed, or the press office have been to a training session on how to reannounce last years good news.

    Meanwile the girl is still sitting the cafe in Rickmansworth waiting for the Infomation Superhighway….

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      You’re confusing the FTTP announcement with the above withdrawal of old copper phone services. The two are linked, but they’re not the same thing.

  5. Avatar Mike says:

    Any solution for EO lines?

    1. Avatar GNewton says:

      FTTP

    2. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      Unless you are very lucky and get FTTP, 4G is usually the best alternative to replace an EO line.

  6. Avatar jeff says:

    The sooner ADSL and VDSL over copper goes the better. Too much interference from it in areas where it should be filtered out or notched but OFCOM too weak to enforce it.

  7. Avatar Geoff says:

    It appears that even if your exchange is in the list it does not mean that all the exchange area will be made FTTP.
    Having recently been let down by the Community Fibre Partnership scheme when funds ran out just when we were ready to sign up.
    Following up from another recent post naming my exchange of interest Openreach
    can’t confirm at this stage if or when it will be done as the planning is in its early stages.
    So I am assuming that just because you see your exchange listed doesn’t mean all will get included in the upgrade.

  8. Avatar Stanley says:

    My exchange was in the last lot they published. Had BT FTTP installed in August, the old copper line was removed and replaced with a dual fibre/copper cable from the pole. Hopefully when I’m switched over, whenever that might be, I won’t be tied to plugging into the isp router ad infinitum and having to daisy chain. Although their router’s okay for the speed I’m currently on.

  9. Avatar G Cot says:

    Should ISPs be encouraged to provide VoIP solutions now? OFCOM could start advising that all modem routers should have telephone ports. Similar to the telly’s should have DiGITAL capability while we transition from analogue drive.
    If you have FTTC and VoIP with your existing number being looked after by your current ISP, it will be far easier to turn off the PSTN when migrating those customers from FTTC to FTTP as they will already have made the need for copper redundant.

  10. Avatar John Henry Barrington says:

    All the optic that is feeding the homes still have a copper pair to the house also. The optic helps with the Internet speed access. The copper is still needed for the phone it self. Copper is still going be the for a long time.

    1. Avatar The Facts says:

      The phone will run over the fibre.

  11. Avatar Dodi says:

    Still nothing for the Chulmleigh area… they keep upgrading places that are cities and already have fast speeds where as the rural areas are still stuck on adsl

  12. Avatar A question says:

    Can someone clarify that if in a power cut if the fibre phone line would still work?

    I realise that most people own a mobile phone these days, but in an emergency knowing that the landline will still work in most circumstances is the main reason I still retain one due to having a vulnerable member of household.

    1. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      You would need battery back-up (UPS) to power the phone in a power cut. Even if you have a UPS there is always a risk it won’t last as long as a power cut.
      Incidentally, I don’t have FTTP, but I don’t have a land-line and rely on mobile phone for emergency contact – we recently had a 5 hour power cut, and that took the only local cell tower out which meant we had no mobile coverage at all – not even emergency calls.

    2. Avatar A question says:

      Thank you for your reply AnotherTim. Your experience of the cellular tower also being taken out by the power cut does trouble me.

      Perhaps a UPS might be the only way to backup the landline, unless a new technology solution is developed in the next few years.

    3. Avatar blueacid says:

      Yep, I’ve noticed in power cuts that one of the phone networks (Three, in my local area specifically) just vanishes. Vodafone (the other network I used at the time) dropped down in signal strength – was this effect because their mast dropped in transmit power due to being on batteries, or was it the case that both a local Voda and Three masts had utterly lost power, and I could get a signal from a still-powered-yet-distant Vodafone mast, but there was no other powered-up Three mast in range?

      In the event of needing reliable power due to vulnerable adults, step one would be to contact your electricity provider or DNO and make them aware. If there’s a power cut they can arrange to proactively make contact, and make arrangements to assist if needed.
      Equally, I believe a lot of the equipment needed uses low voltage DC power (typically 12v DC). There are DC->DC UPS systems that simply involve a 12v battery in the mix. Certainly one perfectly valid solution might be to bodge together an appropriate quantity of DC power connectors and some crocodile clips etc, to steal power from a 12v car battery. Or it might be a worthwhile investment to invest in a generator, since that can also provide for lighting, refrigeration, and run a small heater.

      Only you can know the best tradeoff between cost (both upfront & ongoing maintenance, e.g. keeping a supply of fresh-ish petrol handy for the generator) and safety. But you aren’t dead in the water, there are a number of solutions out there!

  13. Avatar DomeWax says:

    Doesn’t work though. I had FTTP installed in August and it was supposed to come with their Digital Voice product but they have been unable to set it up, weeks and weeks later they have given up and are just putting my phone back on copper.

    1. Avatar chris conder says:

      just get a VoIP phone from someone else. We’re on real fibre, our faves are vonage and sipgate but there’s loads of others. UPS on your router and calls come through to a mobile app and you can make/receive calls off your landline anywhere in the world on wifi. you don’t need to power up dect phones either.

    2. Avatar John says:

      That’s not much help Chris.

      You can’t transfer your existing BT landline number to VOIP or it ceases your entire service.

      I’m sure the person who commented wants to keep their landline number.

  14. Avatar CrustyChap says:

    The area where I live is like a small FTTC-limited island in the middle of an FTTP ocean (Sandhurst/Crowthorne in Bracknell Forest). The strange thing is that there are literally a few properties (in Little Sandhurst) that have FTTP available, and the availability zone follows the strangest pattern on the map ever. It also appears that you can have FTTP only if your house is fed from a pole, but not if it is through an underground duct. I find this very odd, any idea why is this area only abandoned in FTTC wasteland, and why undeground-fed properties can’t have FTTP even if fiber is within easy reach? Thanks in advance

  15. Avatar John Henry Taylor says:

    Would like to know when you are coming to PE126BE? for what I have to pay and drop out service I get!

  16. Avatar Leigh says:

    Openreach told me that they are not upgrading our copper broadband to fibre because the cabinet is to far away from our house.when I checked the cabinet is only 50 yards away.i live in Malpas Newport Gwent not in the middle of Dartmoor.fibre can be delivered above the ground on posts which is less expensive.the reply from bt and openreach the impression they are only updating the easy infrastructure.i pay a premium for slow bt internet which is poor.i would like to have a meeting with bt and openreach management on plans to go forward.

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