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Openreach List 79 New UK Areas for Copper Phone to Fibre Switch – Tranche 6

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 (12:38 pm) - Score 20,424
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Openreach (BT) has published the Tranche 6 batch of 79 UK exchange areas where they plan to move away from copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR etc.) services and on to a new all-IP network, which will occur once over 75% of premises in an area can get their “ultrafast broadband” (FTTP, G.fast) network.

Just to recap, there are two different, albeit closely related, stages to moving away from the old copper line infrastructure. The first starts with the gradual migration of traditional voice (PSTN) services to all-IP technologies, which is due to complete by December 2025 and is occurring on copper line (e.g. SOGEA) products (i.e. copper and full fibre ISPs will both need to introduce VoIP style voice solutions for customers).

NOTE: Openreach’s full fibre currently covers 5.2 million UK premises (build rate of c.43,000 per week) and they aim to reach 25 million by Dec 2026 (here) – 6.2m of those will be in rural or semi-rural areas. The build rate will soon peak at c.75,000 per week.

The second stage involves the ongoing deployment of faster Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure – using light signals via optical fibre instead of slower electrical ones via copper. Only after this second stage has largely completed in an exchange area can you really start to switch-off copper in favour of fibre, which is a longer process (i.e. it takes time to build FTTP, and then you have to allow time for customer migration).

As above, the process for moving from copper to “fibre” begins once 75% of premises in an exchange are able to receive ultrafast connectivity. Hybrid fibre G.fast coverage also counts for this, but its impact is small and is only relevant where speeds of 300Mbps+ are achievable.

The target for the above is often c.24 months after the fibre roll-out starts, while the copper switch-off might then occur c.3 years after that (consumer migration is a slow.. process). The pace of this may vary from place to place, as some areas will have better network coverage than others.

The migration process itself usually starts 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 (12-months’ notice is given before this starts) and ultimately full withdrawal.

The Next 75 Exchange Locations (Tranche 6)

The 79 exchanges announced today take the total number of exchange upgrades that have already been notified as part of the aforementioned process (including trial exchanges) to 455. All of the 79 new additions being announced will introduce their “stop sell” from 1st November 2022.

NOTE: Openreach has around 5,600 exchanges, but hybrid fibre (FTTC, G.fast) and full fibre (FTTP) services are supplied via different exchanges (c.1,000 of that 5,600 total) – so 4,600 will eventually close (after 2030).

We should add that Openreach has a semi-related “Call Waiting List” campaign running (here), which aims to raise awareness among UK businesses of their plans to withdraw old copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR etc.) services by December 2025 and replace them with digital (IP / VoIP) alternatives. The operator has also added a Stop Sells Page to their website, which makes it a bit easier to see all of these changes.

James Lilley, OR’s Director for Managed Customer Migrations, said:

“Twelve months ago, we informed our Communication Provider customers that we would stop selling copper products in exchanges that reach 75% full fibre coverage. This is now a reality for 134 fibre exchanges covering c.1.3m premises across the UK in what is a major stepping-stone in our 10-15 year journey to move from a copper network to full fibre.

Just over two years from now, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And over the next five years, we’ll upgrade some 14 million analogue lines – including the now ageing traditional landline telephone service – to digital All-Internet Protocol (All-IP).

“Today we’ve announced a further 79 exchanges where we plan stop selling copper products – which brings the total to more than 450 exchanges across the country, covering around four million premises. Every quarter, we’ll announce more stop sell exchanges as we continue to upgrade the UK’s digital infrastructure and build our full fibre network to 25m homes and business by 2026.”

Remember, the following list is tentative, so changes and delays do sometimes occur.

79 New Stop Sell Exchanges (Tranche 6)

Exchange Name Location Exchange Code
West Hanney Vale of White Horse SMWHY
Knott End Wyre LCKNO
Hambleton Wyre LCHAM
Glinton Peterborough EMGLINT
Beaminster Dorset STBMSTR
Prestatyn Denbighshire WNPRS
Lanark South Lanarkshire WSLAK
Ilminster South Somerset WWILMI
Blyth, Northumberland Northumberland NEBH
Buckie Moray NSBKI
Burnham On Crouch Maldon EABNH
Chester South Cheshire West and Chester WNCSS
Crick Daventry CMCRI
Daventry Daventry EMDAVEN
Dunbar East Lothian ESDUR
Fauldhouse West Lothian ESFAU
Kings Lynn King’s Lynn and West Norfolk EAKLN
Liskeard Cornwall WWLISK
Lossiemouth Moray NSLOS
Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr Tydfil SWMT/EX
Rhuddlan Denbighshire WNRHU
Rhyl Denbighshire WNRE
Rhymney Caerphilly SWRDA
Sheerness Swale NDSHE
St Annes Fylde LCSTA
Tavistock West Devon WWTAVI
Towcester South Northamptonshire EMTOWCE
Winscombe North Somerset SSWIN
Arnold Gedling EMARNOL
Basildon Basildon EABAS
Sutton Coldfield Birmingham CMSUT
Mickleover Derby EMMICKL
Sandiacre Broxtowe EMSANDI
Chapel Brampton Northampton EMCHAPE
Brixworth Daventry EMBRIXW
Shardlow South Derbyshire EMSHARD
Sidcup Greater London LSSID
Hunts Cross Liverpool LVHUN
Kings Langley Three Rivers LWKLAN
Marple Greater Manchester MRMAR
Garforth Leeds MYGRF
Normanton Wakefield MYNMN
Blaydon Gateshead NEBL
Lower Shelton Bedford SMLSN
Blunsdon Swindon SSBBN
Peopleton Wychavon WMPEO
Worcester St.Johns Worcester WMSTJ
Bowmans Green St Albans LNBGN
Lancing Adur SDLNCNG
Aghalee Lisburn and Castlereagh NIAL
Ahoghill Mid and East Antrim NIAH
Annalong Newry, Mourne and Down NIAA
Ballycastle Causeway Coast and Glens NIBT
Ballygally Mid and East Antrim NIBGL
Ballygowan Ards and North Down NIBN
Ballykinler Newry, Mourne and Down NIBKR
Ballynahinch Newry, Mourne and Down NIBNH
Belcoo Fermanagh and Omagh NIBCO
Belleek Fermanagh and Omagh NIBEK
Bushmills Causeway Coast and Glens NIBH
Bessbrook Newry, Mourne and Down NIBSB
Castlewellan Newry, Mourne and Down NICW
Coagh Mid Ulster NICH
Crumlin Antrim and Newtownabbey NICMN
Cullybackey Mid and East Antrim NICB
Cushendun Causeway Coast and Glens NICSD
Derryadd Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon NIDRY
Derrygonnelly Fermanagh and Omagh NIDY
Derrylin Fermanagh and Omagh NIDYN
Drumbo Lisburn and Castlereagh NIDBO
Fivemiletown Mid Ulster NIFN
Glenarm Mid and East Antrim NIGM
Kesh Fermanagh and Omagh NIKH
Lisnaskea Fermanagh and Omagh NILA
Randalstown Antrim and Newtownabbey NIRT
Tandragee Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon NITG

One small issue. Despite the announcement mentioning 79 exchanges, the official list for Tranche 6 only names 76.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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33 Responses
  1. Danny Costello says:

    I live in Normanton and there is no Openreach FTTP yet so they’ll have to ramp that rollout soon

    1. NE555 says:

      No, as the article makes clear: the removal of analogue voice services is *not* dependent on the availability of FTTP.

      All voice services will be moved to a digital voice port on your router, but the router can still connect over copper using FTTC or ADSL.

  2. John H says:

    Still very unclear what will happen to a copper line in a rural area longer term, the R100 info I was given was if the property is dropped from R100 due to issues such as wayleaves then the property owner will need to pay later for FTTP. Which suggest copper will be around for a lot longer than the publicity suggests. In a previous ISPreview article on R100 this was also very evasive on copper after an exchange has gone fibre only.

    1. AnotherTim says:

      You’d effectively just need a VoIP adapter at the exchange end of the legacy copper subscriber line. The exchange per se could be FTTP, but the expensive/awkard last mile(s) could remain copper. You wouldn’t necessarily have to keep ADSL to run VoIP. I’m not suggesting that will happen (it is bad from several perspectives) but I could envision it.

    2. John H says:

      So copper will not end, just not be mentioned.

      Will Openreach commit to continuing to serve these areas until FTTP arrives (if ever), or does there come a point where maintaining the old copper lines for such few premises is no longer viable? If so, what will happen in such areas?

      Andrew’s Answer:

      The availability of copper products (LLU-MPF and SOTAP) won’t be affected by the withdrawal of WLR products and closure of the PSTN at the end of 2025. These will continue to provide access for customers outside our fibre coverage areas.

      In stop sell exchange areas, premises enabled for full fibre will only be able to order a full fibre product from the point of stop sell (ie when 75% of an exchange has coverage), though there’s an exception for FTTC-based 40/10 products. Any premises not enabled for full fibre can continue to order copper-based products either until it becomes enabled for full fibre or, in the case of WLR products, until the national stop sell (September 2023) is triggered.

    3. Winston Smith says:

      After PTSN switch off, the exchange will presumably no longer supply DC power for analogue phones.

      For FTTC there will remain a copper connection to the cabinet but no further.

      The ultimate fate of those people still on ADSL and unlikely to get FTTP is unclear. Perhaps Openreach hope that they’ll migrate to 4G/5G or satellite broadband of their own accord.

    4. NE555 says:

      People on ADSL will stay on ADSL. As long as you can get 0.5Mbps down and 0.5Mbps up, the digital voice service will work.

      There is also the USO which is supposed to come into play if you get less than 10M down and 1M up. Many of those will end up on 4G.

      There is also the old voice USO, and BT/OR won’t want to keep a whole exchange running just to serve one voice line in the middle of nowhere, so you can be sure they’ll be creative in coming up with solutions. In some cases they may be forced to roll out an FTTP line to replace a copper one.

  3. Justin says:

    List defaults onto row 4 when you open it. Scroll up and you can see the missing 3…

    123 Bow Mid Devon WWBOW 01-Nov-22 19-Oct-21 Tranche 6
    134 Dutton Diffeth Wrexham WNDD 01-Nov-22 19-Oct-21 Tranche 6
    153 Penzance Cornwall WWPENZ 01-Nov-22 19-Oct-21 Tranche 6

  4. Granola says:

    A couple of questions

    1) Where I live is on this list – there is a tiny amount of FTTP on this exchange and so I presume this will be over the copper line – what if any are the implications of wiring and speed for the existing FTTC connection?

    2) If I order a new landline install after the stop/sell date for copper, do I get a low speed fibre line or the possibility of FTTP full speed ?

    1. John H says:

      FTTP is never over copper, so those FTTP lines are via fibre lines so no affect on FTTC other than eventually the last FTTC properties will get the faster speeds back when FTTC was new with few subscribers.

      Once the stop/sell is in place you have to order fibre, which will be the range of speeds set by Openreach ie low to high.

  5. Clive peters says:

    why not stop selling copper to a property as soon as fibre is available?

    1. John H says:

      Maintenance costs are significantly lower for fibre over copper, so it saves money by replacing copper with fibre. Keeping copper lines to all properties in parallel with fibre blows the justification for fibre out the water.

  6. Nick Booth says:

    where in the name of half duplex is Kingston?

    Cn anyone help me?

    we’re on one meagre byte per second in this medival market town!!!

    I wouldn’t mind but I HAVE to work from home

    I can”t use Virgin as I’m banned, even though it was THEM that owed ME money!!!!

    (as was subsequently proved by the adjudicators)

    Nick

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Kingston Upon Thames?
      OR FTTP To be built between April 2022 and April 2025. Plans currently exclude Hampton Wick and Teddington. You have good 5G and 4G coverage.

      If you are really only on 1 Mbps in a VM coverage area then there is something seriously wrong and possibly not with the OR line as nearly all Kingston Upon Thames is superfast (except in the park) and a good portion has G.Fast.

    2. Nicholas Booth says:

      TO: Meadmodj

      Thanks for your response.

      The One mbps speed was measured by that online app offered by Which.

      I’m with BT at the moment, not Virgin. Long story with Virgin

      According to the checker.OFCOM ‘what’s available in your area’ thingy, there is no 5G in my area. Nor even outdoor 4G

      If you know better, please can you advise where I can get 5G?

      How do you know there is 5G in this area?

      I would welcome any advice you can give

      You seem very well informed. Please share your know how.

    3. Meadmodj says:

      Definitive advice needs to be against your exact location. I was commenting generically based on your post. The mobile landscape is constantly changing (improvement and degradation) as masts are updated and providers constantly change their connection policies for Device/SIM/Frequency combinations.

      Always best to check the provider coverage maps to check theoretical coverage understanding that there is always the possibility of a mobile signal being blocked or suffer interference to your location. A quick view is available at https://www.signalchecker.co.uk/ and follow the links to the individual providers. You have 4G from all provider networks and additionally 5G from EE currently.

  7. awelshman says:

    had an email today from bt to say my fttc line will be moved to digital voice next week and my existing phones will work by moving plug from nte socket to hub. as a retired engineer getting them to work by re-gigging the wiring is not a problem

  8. Mark says:

    How do they pick the exchange?its all very hit and miss, you have tiny exchanges being upgraded and large exchanges left out.

    1. Sam Machin says:

      I think this might be more to do with a long term property strategy of the exchanges they’ll keep vs one’s they’ll close and sell off the land. I’m imagine part of this decision is which plots are more valuable for development along with the cost of maintaining the buildings. I’m sure I saw somewhere that ones everything is FTTP then BT will only have about 10% of the number of exchange buildings they have today. The property costs are a big cost item and a fixed asset on their books.

      I noticed Winscombe is on this list, what’s interesting is that there is a new build of 70 homes opposite me in Claverham which have FTTP connected to Winscombe, this is despite there being the local exchange for Claverham in Yatton and another in Wrington between us and Winscombe, makes me thing that long term they’ll keep Winscombe and close Yatton & Wrington migrating all the copper customers over to FTTP on there.

    2. Somerset says:

      @Sam – land values higher in Wrington than Winscombe!

  9. Jeff says:

    I see Plymouth not mentioned as of yet. I would imagine this is a logistical problem atm due to the area being so large to cover. I live in ernesttle green Plymouth,fed from over head pole. Do you have any further timescale data atm.

  10. C Thompson says:

    We have been forced to adopt Digital Voice. In the event of a power cut, when router goes down you are advised to use your cell phone. Only problem virtually no cell coverage in our area so at home use wi-fi calling through router. So router goes down, so does cell phone! BT/Openreach’s solution – buy a back up battery for £80. Battery lasts an hour. In our area we can have 6 or 7 hour power cuts. My MP has taken it all the way. BT admits is a problem in many areas, lots of meaningless waffle. No solution.

    1. Paul M says:

      I bought a UPS (from ups-trader) which powers the ONT, router, DECT base station, wifi access point, file server everything, and less than £100.

    2. Ivor says:

      That’s the side effect of the way things are going. Instead of a phone network that also does internet on the side, we are moving towards an internet connection that can do phone for those who want it. Most people want better internet, not a landline, and that’s what we’re getting.

      Writing to your MP won’t help – Ofcom has already decided that BT (and the similar solutions from other ISPs) can do this, because the UPS will last long enough for most people and the vast majority of users are probably using a cordless phone anyway, which don’t work during power cuts.

      If your power cuts are as frequent and as long as you suggest I’d be getting a generator and/or solar panels + battery installed. Or perhaps ask that MP of yours to instead question the electricity company!

  11. Josh Welby says:

    Edgware A Exchange, High Street, Edgware,
    North West London and Edgware B Exchange, Mowbery Road, Edgware,
    North West London still not listed

    1. Brian Catt says:

      Josh, have you seen any London code exchanges listed yet?

  12. Martin says:

    I suspect that as more customers move from FTTC to FTTP that FTTC will become increasingly expensive to run and will be priced accordingly, encouraging more folk to move to FTTP.

    1. Paul M says:

      BT already jacked up the price of copper to help cover deployment of fibre, which is a kick in the teeth to people where fibre isn’t available.

  13. Paul M says:

    When I switched to FTTP, I ported my BT phone line’s number to a VOIP service, it saves me a lot of money on line rental every month. No need to be tied to legacy services any more.

    1. Meadmodj says:

      BT only charges £2/m for the voice service. Virgin nothing. Sky £5/m (inc E/W). It is the call plan that stings, especially BT’s. So nothing wrong for incoming calls as long as you use a mobile for outgoing (direct use of mobile or via bluetooth).

  14. d strettton says:

    why it that brownhills west ws87ll is always missed off the list the Internet is so poor here maximum you can get is 5 and 7mb and that keeps going off ..

    1. Meadmodj says:

      At least you are in the current OR plan.

  15. David MW0DCM says:

    Tylorstown in Rhondda Valleys has been on the map to be started in 3 months for over 12 months! And Brownhills yup being a Black Countryman I know that one too well! I noticed Willenhall where I originally come from in Walsall is still not on the list to….
    Here in the Valleys I’m not holding my breath for Openscreach to finally get to this town for FTTP, even though it’s on the list, it’s as if the list is just for show to make them look good?

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