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Openreach Move from Selling Copper to Full Fibre in Salisbury UK

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 (3:17 pm) - Score 2,856
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As expected Openreach (BT) have today confirmed that the cathedral city of Salisbury in Wiltshire has just become the first location in the UK where the operator has stopped selling copper based broadband ISP and phone services, which means that new orders or upgrades on their network can now only be provisioned with FTTP.

Some 22,242 premises in the city have already been covered by the operator’s gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network (here), which follows a short 12-month deployment that finally completed in June 2020. The city has long been chosen as the place where Openreach were going to test their copper to fibre migration path and thus today’s development is not a surprise, but it remains a very important step forward.

NOTE: More than 2,500 premises in Salisbury have so far upgraded to the new Full Fibre network in the last 9-months.

The “stop sell” on existing copper-based services is also only the first step in this effort as many existing homes and businesses are still connected to their older products. The migration trial in Salisbury is thus due to run until December 2022, although the overall process of moving consumers onto an all-IP network and FTTP – both have to happen before copper can be disabled – will take a long time to complete across the UK.

On this point we’d remind our readers that Openreach is currently investing £12bn to bring their FTTP network to 20 million UK premises by the mid to late 2020s (2025 to 2029), which still leaves around 10 million+ premises without access to their full fibre (rival networks are expected to reach some of those).

Openreach have also accelerated their plans to move away from their old analogue phone (PSTN / WLR) services (here), which can be done even before FTTP arrives (i.e. copper services moving to an all-IP platform first).

James Tappenden, Openreach’s Fibre First Director, said:

“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.”

Just in case it wasn’t clear. The quote above, where Openreach says they will “stop selling copper-based products nationally” by September 2023 in preparation for withdrawal at the end of 2025, does need a bit of extra clarification. This is only referencing the move away from their old copper-based analogue phone / voice (PSTN / WLR) services and the adoption of a new all-IP network, not the rollout of FTTP as that will take much longer.

In other words, you will still be able to buy FTTC and G.fast broadband in non-FTTP dominated areas for some years longer than 2025. Openreach has 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. In fact, that programme has been accelerated (here).

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. The target for this is 24 months after roll-out starts, while the final copper switch-off might then occur c.3 years after that. The pilot in Salisbury will no doubt help to refine the thinking on all this.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar Sam says:

    “In other words, you will still be able to buy FTTC and G.fast broadband in non-FTTP dominated areas for some years longer than 2025.”

    Does this mean ADSL will no longer be available for new provisions? I’ve read exchange only lines are still a problem in some areas?

    1. Avatar Jonny says:

      If you can’t get FTTP then you’re going to still be able to buy copper services

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      There’s an all-IP solution for ADSL lines coming called SOADSL. Meanwhile voice-only customers in areas with no FTTC/P/G.fast alternative will eventually be offered a special Single Order Transitional Access Product (SOTAP).

  2. Avatar NE555 says:

    A few questions:

    1. If stop-sell of copper occurs when FTTP coverage hits 75%, presumably the remaining 25% can still continue to order copper?

    2. Suppose someone is already on a copper service (say FTTC). For how long can they keep it? Are they forced to migrate off at the end of their existing contract with their service provider, or can it roll on indefinitely?

    3. What if someone is with a service provider that doesn’t provide FTTP, like PlusNet? Is PlusNet obliged to cease the service, and if so, when?

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      the stop sell, presumably only occurs for new OR Copper connections?

      Yes, I’d often wondered about the 25% not covered. This is where it’s gets knotty. I can’t believe (?) that OFCOM would allow a service cessation so it must (?) be only where FTTC/GFast > FTTP.

  3. Avatar Jim says:

    They haven’t stopped selling copper, they’ve stopped selling Fiber to the Exchange (FTTE).

  4. Avatar Denis Baggaley says:

    OpenReach’s work in Salisbury, has to say the least, been very disorganised. They started work in my close a year ago, but still the box in the street for my property is empty. I’ve had no communication from OpenReach as to when they’ll complete the connection. According to my neighbours, signing up for FTTP with BT brings them round immediately, but I’m still waiting for them to respond to my ISP on when they’ll do my property. Gloriously inefficient!

    1. Avatar Rahul says:

      There’s a strong possibility that Openreach were not granted wayleave permission from your building management, which is why your FTTP connection hasn’t been completed yet.

      This is why I was extremely sceptical when I read that Openreach were going to complete Salisbury in just 12 months! So far 96.65% Openreach FTTP coverage with another 24,528 premises still needing completion to reach 100%.

      It is not the fault of Openreach or the ISP. I was in a similar situation where Openreach FTTP was on a plan here in Central London for my building and a few others around me. Wayleave was rejected from my building management company for all their buildings around my area just as it was for Hyperoptic for 5 years before finally being upgraded to FTTC instead.

      Openreach in the same way ignored my email 2 years ago when I asked why FTTP plan was reverted to FTTC. But I quickly identified that it is the wayleave that was the obstacle just as it was for Hyperoptic, and that was the clue for me. In the end Openreach upgraded us to FTTC instead from our previous EO Line.

      You have to involve your neighbours to apply pressure on your landlord management company. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to simply wait for the legislation’s to change. Until then you won’t be upgraded to FTTP regardless of the FTTP provider.

    2. Avatar The Facts says:

      @Rahul – Denis is in a close so unlikely wayleaves are involved.

  5. Avatar Denis Baggaley says:

    Thanks The Facts – your reply is correct – no wayleave required. TalkTalk guy visited Monday to connect me up, having checked my postcode, and was amazed to find that OpenReach hadn’t installed the cable from box in the street, to my property. Even more amazed to open the box and find nothing but earth inside. I’ve lost count of the number of times OpenReach have been back to check what they’ve done in the close, but I’m sure my ISP, TalkTalk will get ORs groundworks team to come and finish the job. I’m sure this is all to discourage folk from signing up for FTTP through anyone but BT.

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