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Openreach List Next 18 UK Areas for Copper Phone to Fibre Switch – Tranche 13

Thursday, Jul 13th, 2023 (2:01 pm) - Score 20,552
Inside-Openreach-Fibre-Exchange-2023

Openreach (BT) has confirmed the next batch of 18 UK exchanges under ‘Tranche 13‘ of their project to move away from older copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR etc.) services and on to a new all-IP network, which in this case will also occur once over 75% of premises in each area are able to get FTTP broadband.

At present, there are two programmes for moving away from old copper lines and services, which can sometimes criss-cross each other. The first starts with the gradual migration of traditional analogue voice (PSTN) services to digital all-IP technologies (e.g. SOGEA), which is due to complete by December 2025 and is occurring for both copper and full fibre products (i.e. ISPs are introducing digital voice / VoIP style services).

NOTE: Openreach’s full fibre currently covers over 11 million UK premises (build rate of c.54,000 per week) and they aim to reach 25 million (80%+) by Dec 2026.

The second programme involves the ongoing rollout of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure – using light signals via optical fibre instead of electrical signals via slow copper lines. Only after this second stage has largely completed in an exchange area can you really start to completely switch-off copper lines, but that’s a much longer process as you have to allow a few years for user migration.

Take note that the process for fully moving away from copper to “fibre” begins once 75% of premises in an exchange are able to receive ultrafast broadband connectivity. The news today is thus focused on this second phase (i.e. “FTTP Priority Exchange” areas).

Between the full fibre rollout and the gradual switch away from copper lines, this process will take several years in each area to complete, and the pace will vary (i.e. some areas have better FTTP coverage than others). We should add that Openreach will stop selling all analogue phone lines to new customers by 5th September 2023 (this has no impact on IP / SOGEA based copper or full fibre broadband lines).

NOTE: SOGEA (FTTC), SOTAP (ADSL2+) and SOGfast (G.fast) are all copper-based broadband-only products, where voice services can only be added as an optional digital IP / VoIP phone service (i.e. no analogue phones).

18 New Exchange Locations (Tranche 13)

The migration process away from the legacy services usually starts with a “no move back” policy (i.e. no going back to copper) for premises connected with fibre, which is followed by a “stop-sell” of copper services to new customers (12-months of notice is given before this starts and that is what today’s list represents). This stage is then followed by a final “withdrawal” phase, but that comes later. The stop sell is applied at premises level, so it shouldn’t impact you if you don’t yet have access to FTTP (edge-case conflicts may still occur due to rare quirks of network availability).

The 18 exchanges announced today – covering 161,000 premises – takes the total number of exchange upgrades that have already been notified as part of the aforementioned process (including trial exchanges), or which are actively under “stop sell“, to 846 – covering a total of around 8 million premises. The “stop sell” in the Tranche 14 areas will be introduced from 16th August 2024.

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) and up to 4,600 will eventually close (after 2030) – see here, here and here.

The operator has also added a Stop Sells Page to their website, which makes it easy to see all the changes. Remember, the following list is tentative, so changes and delays will occur (exchanges can are often shifted around into different tranches).

18 Stop Sell Exchanges in Tranche 13

Exchange Name Exchange Location
Accrington Accrington
Adel Leeds 
Amman Valley Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen
Armitage Armitage
Askern Askern 
Batley Batley
Crawfordjohn Crawfordjohn
Downderry Downderry
Elvanfoot Crawford 
Fordhouses Wolverhampton 
Haddenham Haddenham (East Cambridgeshire
Harthill Harthill 
Heaton Moor Greater Manchester – Stockport
Heywood Greater Manchester – Rochdale
Lamington Broughton (South Lanarkshire)
Orsett Grays 
Uckfield Uckfield 
Wellingborough Wellingborough
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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Clive peters says:

    “The second programme involves the ongoing rollout of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure – using light signals via optical fibre instead of electrical signals via slow copper lines. Only after this second stage has largely completed in an exchange area can you really start to completely switch-off copper lines, but that’s a much longer process as you have to allow a few years for user migration.”

    Not true – a copper exchange could be switched off if 100% of homes were on FTTC

    1. Avatar photo The Facts says:

      Does the 50v come from the FTTC cabinet?

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      SoGEA lines don’t have voltage on them – at least the ones I have access to do not. There is no requirement to maintain the E-side for a SoGEA line except for test purposes or if someone wants to migrate back to PSTN (while that’s still possible) or LLU, as I understand it.

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      That paragraph isn’t talking about exchanges, it’s talking about lines. The exchange closure programme is separate, but related (not part of this article). There are so many changes happening at once that it can get confusing.

    4. Avatar photo CJ says:

      100% FTTC is a purely hypothetical scenario. In the real world, most Openreach cabinets do not have enough FTTC capacity to serve all remaining analogue lines using FTTC.

    5. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      is that necessary though? They’re probably already at the high water mark as it is, with people moving to FTTP either through openreach or through an alt net.

      Businesses that have a pile of PSTN/ISDN lines will move to VoIP and perhaps using one of those lines as the bearer. Most people who have and still need a landline likely already have FTTC/P anyway. The FTTP rollout also frees up line cards that could be installed in cabinets that aren’t already full.

      Openreach won’t want people using any sort of exchange based service where better services already exist. SOTAP and friends are for those who are still stuck on ADSL, not because they choose to stay on it.

    6. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      @Ivor

      “The FTTP rollout also frees up line cards that could be installed in cabinets that aren’t already full.”

      It doesn’t but it does remove FTTC customers to free up space for anyone still on a full cabinet waiting list. The few ADSL only areas seem to have been the most targeted by FTTP deployment and most exchange only lines got a PCP/FTTC all in one cabinet a few years ago.

      You are right that most ADSL customers are on it due to FTTC/FTTP unavailability rather than choice.

    7. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      In places like mine, where there are three VDSL cabinets on one PCP, it absolutely does free up equipment for re-use. The FTTP rollout is essentially everywhere except the blocks of flats, and take up looks pretty good judging by the new boxes on people’s houses

      They could likely remove two of those cabinets in the nearer term (good, as two out of the three are ECI garbage anyway) and consolidate all of the remaining users into one. Power savings, tax savings, wayleave savings, and likely a bit of a speed boost (I happen to have two lines, all identical except the DSLAM type – the Huawei gets the full 80/20 and the ECI struggles to get to 65)

  2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    Openreach seems to have a long way to go here, a fair bit still no openreach fibre.

    1. Avatar photo Hello says:

      I don’t envy them with the work they still need to do

  3. Avatar photo Roy says:

    My provider is forcing me to move to City fiber. I don’t want this as then they will have monopoly and charge more
    I want ti stay with Openreach

    1. Avatar photo Terence says:

      I would change to another provider that uses the Openreach network so that I can switch provider easily in the future

  4. Avatar photo Bob says:

    It would seem to be more sensible to automatically move people to a digital line if they take up FTTP with the exception of if they have other services on a line that may currently be problematic if they were to have a digital line. I think Sky already automatically put people on a digital line if no other services on the line

  5. Avatar photo Bob says:

    It would seem to be more sensible to automatically move people to a digital line if they take up FTTP with the exception of if they have other services on a line that may currently be problematic if they were to have a digital line. I think Sky already automatically put people on a digital line if no other services on the line

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      People are already on a digital line if they switch to FTTP? They are also moving FTTC customers to digital voice as part of the WLR (Openreach’s voice product) withdrawal. FTTC cabinets only supply data, not traditional landlines.

      The only services you can have now on copper lines are FTTC or voice (technically a LLU provider could do something else but none of them do) so all can be migrated to digital voice.

    2. Avatar photo JmJohnson says:

      Alex… Last November I was migrated to FTTP. My PSTN line was migrated to digital voice last month.
      So no… the swap to a digital line isn’t automatic if you have FTTP.

      My understanding is that a new build with only FTTP will have digital voice on day1. A premises with a copper line that has FTTP installed will continue with a PSTN line until they are migrated.
      A premises with only a copper line will be migrated to a digital line via FTTC even if they don’t have internet at some point.

  6. Avatar photo emmamartineau says:

    I’ve happened across this sight in my attempts to make sense of this. As you all seem to know so much in such detail, can any of you explain what will happen to people like me. From our house we can see the full super fast broadband cabinet. It comes from an exchange in Warwickshire. We however are across a county divide, so there are no plans to join our phone up as, despite the Warwickshire code, we live in Worcestershire.

Comments are closed

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