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One Month Until Openreach Stop Selling New UK Analogue Phone Lines

Wednesday, Aug 9th, 2023 (10:08 am) - Score 10,984
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Openreach’s (BT) long road toward completely switching off their old copper-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in December 2025 is set to hit a major milestone on 5th September 2023, when it places a UK wide “stop sell” on sales of new Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) and related broadband ISP products.

The move, which will not impact existing users of these products (until the 2025 deadline), means that anybody looking to buy a traditional analogue copper phone line rental (WLR and SMPF) service from a provider for the first time (new order) – including any linked broadband services (e.g. FTTC, G.fast, ADSL) – will no longer be able to do so.

NOTE: The stop sell is part of a wider and longer-term effort to gradually retire copper lines and shift consumers on to Openreach’s full fibre (FTTP) network.

However, the exception to this rule is fully unbundled (MPF) lines, such as those sold by various ISPs like TalkTalk and Sky Broadband that have invested to gain more control over BT / OR’s lines – enabling them to sell cheaper and more flexible copper-based broadband and phone products. Such ISPs will be able to continue selling related products to new customers post 5th September 2023. But that won’t last forever and eventually (post 2030) even the old exchanges will be retired.

The stop sell move is thus most relevant to ISPs with a large based of regular (WLR and SMPF) phone and broadband lines, such as BT, Zen Internet and many others. But the good news is that Openreach has spent the past few years developing alternative copper-based broadband products that don’t need to depend on the old PSTN/WLR services.

Naturally, Openreach’s ultimate goal is to get everybody moved on to their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) lines, but not everybody is covered by that yet. Consumers in those areas will thus still be able to take broadband via special versions of the ADSL (SOTAP), FTTC (SOGEA) and G.fast (SOGFast) products – these are essentially standalone copper-based broadband lines, albeit with no analogue phone service attached.

The key difference above is that anybody in a WLR/PSTN “stop sell” area who orders or upgrades to one of those new broadband-only (SOTAP, SOGEA, SOGFast) lines may not get a phone service included by default (i.e. this becomes an optional add-on). Customers who want to retain a home phone service will thus need to ensure that their ISP has launched a digital (IP-based) phone solution (e.g. BT’s Digital Voice product).

As we’ve discussed before, digital phone services are a bit different and often involve customers needing to plug their existing phone handsets into the back of a broadband router (assuming it has an FSO/FXO phone port) or Analogue Terminal Adapter (ATA) device (these plug into the LAN port on your router), rather than the old BT/OR Master Socket (e.g. NTE5A, NTE5C) on your wall.

Some providers, such as BT, have already run into problems with their Digital Voice service (here), which highlights some of the caveats with the new approach and its extra complexity (e.g. the need for battery backup during power outages) and thus why it’s so important for consumer-facing ISPs to have the right solutions in place to ensure a smooth migration when the time comes.

On the other hand, the industry has known this change was coming since before 2017 (example), thus there’s really no excuse for a retail provider not being prepared for it by now. But as BT’s example shows, other providers are still likely to experience some problems and complaints during the transition.

NOTE: The Stop Sells Page on Openreach’s website has a lot more detail, but it’s a hard read for those unfamiliar with all the jargon.
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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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60 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    What if you are on a yearly contract on your phone/internet and it needs to be renewed with the same ISP. Will they force you onto VOIP then?

    1. Avatar photo Dassa says:

      Firstly I would be stunned if the contract actually required renewal – do they really cut you off after a year?

      Secondly, at the moment this only applies with respect to changes to what Openreach are asked to provide. If you continued with your existing supplier then there would be no impact as they won’t raise any orders with Openreach. If you moved to a different provider then (unless it was Sky or Talktalk who have their own analogue line equipment for now) then you would be expected to move to digital voice.

      Thirdly, even if you retain your analogue line for now then (assuming it isn’t provided by Sky or Talktalk) then it will cease working by 31st December 2025 so you are unlikely to get more than a year contract. If you are with Sky or Talktalk then they are likely to have their own deadlines but we don’t know what those are at the moment.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Dassan largely covered this above. But in simple terms, if you’re not moving ISP and staying on the same connection, then there’s no change (yet) as you’re classed as an existing customer.

    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Openreach may not force it, but your ISP might. BT already effectively does so with digital voice if you recontract. You can currently say no, but I suspect they’ll take the option away shortly so they don’t have a rush on in 2025.

    4. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Can’t see Sky carrying on that much longer seeing as their current router already has phone port on back, it must be there for a reason.

    5. Avatar photo Mal says:

      I’m on a 1Mb ADSL connection at best, that drops about 20 times per day. The local D side cables are aluminium. There is FTTC three miles away. What happens in this instance??

    6. Avatar photo Mml says:

      If your question is about Sky specifically, they’re going to say, sorry, we cannot offer you service at your address. They won’t sell you even ADSL if the line speed is below 2 Mbps.

  2. Avatar photo May you live in interesting times says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily presume your “safe” with a TalkTalk MPF based voice service, given recent talk in the market of a split in of the business…

    1. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

      Currently TT have the user guidance regarding their Digital Voice service on their web site but do not appear currently to sell the voice service with their Full Fibre products. Why this is the case is not clear.

      I doubt TT will abandon their customers that still wish to retain a voice service so I am assuming they are holding off VoIP capacity investment/implementation and writing off their PSTN elements until they are clearer on their future.

    2. Avatar photo Mml says:

      +1 to the comment above. TalkTalk are already in a dire situation, so they won’t dare to do things such as withdrawing analogue voice and pushing an upgrade to VoIP that will chase customers away, both existing and prospective.

  3. Avatar photo Stu says:

    What happens if by the end of 2025 my area does not have an FTTP option? Does my analogue line and FTTC circuit just get disconnected? I live in a rural area with 30,000 residents 7 miles out from Newcastle city centre but BT have not announced any FTTP upgrades for our exchange.

    1. Avatar photo Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

      You will be covered by a SoGEA solution instead

    2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      FTTP isn’t directly relevant here – to meet the 2025 copper switch off deadline, Openreach simply have to ensure that between now and then your landline connection is transferred to a digital service/VOIP that relies on whatever broadband connection you have, and then come December the analogue line will be switched off, but you won’t be using it then. If you’re using FTTC, then absent an FTTP changes, the digital voice service will work perfectly well with FTTC.

      You could address the uncertainty and do it yourself now, of course. Take out a VOIP contract and port your landline number to that. As very light landline users, that’s what I did, and now my landline works perfectly well when needed, but costs about £1.50 a month for the service from A&A, plus call costs that are typically around three pounds a month, plus a one off £35 cost for the analogue telephone adaptor. If anybody in your household can talk for England, then you might want to go for a VOIP package that includes calls, those often include the cost of the adaptor. There’s an article on this site from December last year that looks at your choices for a residential VOIP connection.

    3. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      @Stu: There is a long-term project to replace all copper wiring with fibre. When the withdrawal of PSTN happens by the end of 2025 there will be a huge amount of copper still in place, and those customers will continue to get their broadband over copper.

    4. Avatar photo graham says:

      @stu think your getting a bit confused ( easily done with all thats happening ) . like yourself im also on fttc and no sign of openreach fttp here ( not even a colour on the openreach map ) . in simple terms ( appreciate its more technical than this ) down the copper cable is 2 signals voice and broadband ( fttc, adsl etc ) come dec 2025 the voice signal will be turned off but the broadband part wont be and the voice part will have to be done via broadband ( voip ) . hopefully that makes sense

    5. Avatar photo Andy Kelly says:

      For those on FTTC you will have to move to SOGEA. Openreach will start to throttle the bandwidth on FTTC before 2025 to force customers onto SOGEA.

  4. Avatar photo Martin says:

    I’m not sure the article is clear enough in terms of switching ISPs. From an initial skim it looks like it’s about new lines, but this change effectively stops you from switching ISPs without your phone moving to VOIP(albeit typically via your router, and maybe not over the internet proper just to your ISP).

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Correct. Because the ISP won’t have a product (PSTN) to sell, so you’ll have to move to a digital voice product at some point (Or drop the landline) – Or you can hang onto your line until your provider forcibly moves you (plus your yearly contract price increases), then any issues etc. they’ll be dealing with loads, rather than the few they get now.

      Doesn’t seem worth it to hang onto the phone line, when you can just migrate to DV. Move to a VoIP provider, Or just use a mobile.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Switching ISP would be a new provision and, post-stop sell, we’d expect the new ISP to only be offering FTTP or SOGEA, SOTAP and SOGFast anyway. So yes, you’d still be looking to take an ISP with an IP-based phone product when switching away (or extract your phone number to a separate VoIP provider – but that can be tedious), as they won’t be offering analogue products to new customers.

    3. Avatar photo Vince says:

      There are already issues like that – if you’re on a FTTC 40/10, you can’t even do a 80/20 speed upgrade once FTTP is available in your area, so whether you like it or not, if you wanted just a bit more speed without the hassle of installing FTTP (which in some cases may be really difficult) you’ll be stuck on the speed you had.

  5. Avatar photo OR says:

    @MarkJ SOGfast haven’t been sold yet from many ISPs because BTWholesale and TTBusiness aren’t selling it only G.fast via line rental only. Poor from Openreach not actioned SOGFast yet.

    1. Avatar photo The witcher says:

      SoGfast is being sold by openreach.

    2. Avatar photo Neil Farnham-Smith says:

      Might be by OpenReach but it isn’t available via wholesale everywhere which leaves a huge gap. Plus pricing on the WLR+GFast is being ramped up without having a route to SoGFast.

  6. Avatar photo Carlconradw says:

    I ditched my landline when I switched to Vodafone full fibre 2 years ago and have never looked back.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      12 years ago I ditched mine, I went with a wireless provider, got a Voip system, even after the two year contract when I had to go to FTTC, i never bothered with the landline, only connected a phone to it once when I was having problems with my broadband to see if there was any dial tone. Used the VoIP, now I am with Zzoomm, the copper has been disconnected once again.

      My main problem with what is happening is people who need their landline working and there is no battery back up for it, not that Openrerach cares, they will just be rubbing their hands with glee with all the money they will save.

  7. Avatar photo Serf says:

    Digital Voice customers will in future want to know about landline number portability and keeping their landline number when switching broadband providers.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Best thing in that case would be to move your number to a third party voip provider then it would be completely independent of your ISP.

    2. Avatar photo Peter says:

      There is a small problem if you want to port your landline phone number to VOIP and you are a Plusnet customer. If you request to port the existing number to a VOIP provider it will have the effect of ceasing the FTTC broadband service, as that is the number under which the service is provided. Of course if you want a new number for a VOIP service then that will of course run fine over the Plusnet FTTC service. As I understand it it will not be possible to separate the phone number from the broadband service with Plusnet until the broadband can/has been moved onto FTTP. Unfortunately our part of town hasn’t been provisioned in FTTP yet but I live in hope of it arriving soon.

    3. Avatar photo Adam Franklin says:

      You are entitled to port your number away from any supplier. So long as the the range holder and provider of the losing and gaining provider have porting agreements you shouldn’t have an issue and most the big providers all have agreements.

      In regards to losing the underlying service if you port a number away, there are and will be solutions available. When you move from an old copper service such as ADSL2+ or FTTC to FTTP or a transitionary service (such as SOGEA) the number will no longer be assocaited with the line and can be ported to a VOIP supplier without triggering a cease of the line. Your VOIP provider will have the tools to be able to align porting dates with the date your service swaps over to minimise downtime too.

      That said, if you wait until the switch off in 2025 you will be trying to do it when a lot of other people are so it’s better do it sooner than later to reduce the risk of things going wrong.

  8. Avatar photo OR says:

    The witcher says:
    August 9, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    SoGfast is being sold by openreach.

    I know that but sadly customer can’t have SoGfast direct from Openreach.

    1. Avatar photo The witcher says:

      You know end users can’t purchase direct from openreach , they are a wholesaler. What is your point?

  9. Avatar photo Not Marina Sorti says:

    So Now broadband and sky who recently announced redundancies. NOW broadband especially have been selling PSTN phone lines and seem to continue to do so with no sight of voip or FTTP

    They are currently in transition of training workers in India to do their new sales, contract renewals and cancellations.

    The news of the PSTN switch off in September, are these very poor Indians being trained just to then not be able to place new sale orders for customers.

    Or has NOW got a surprise up their sleeve to start selling VOIP or FTTP?

    In my opinion NOW broadband will be no more soon and it will Only be NOW TV in a very short while

    1. Avatar photo Ben says:

      > However, the exception to this rule is fully unbundled (MPF) lines, such as those sold by various ISPs like TalkTalk and Sky Broadband

      NOW Broadband is a trading name of Sky.

  10. Avatar photo DelT says:

    An aspect that arises if one opts for a VOIP service from a broadband provider is that a number of ISPs will not support the use of an ATA connected to a LAN port where SIP credentials are required. Similarly there would be problems using an IP phone that uses Ethernet to connect. To use an IP phone or an analogue phone through an ATA it is necessary to use a VOIP provider who will provide credentials. ISP provided routers that use a Tel port to connect an analogue phone or have locked DECT provision may not allow VOIP through a LAN port.

  11. Avatar photo Walkerx says:

    I’m with Zen on G.Fast 330/50 and enquired about ditching analogue service as we don’t use the phone.

    Been told can’t do unless we change to a 80/20 service as g.fast requires the Analog side and as they’ve stopped selling g.fast that would be only option until we get FTTP which will be late 2026 according to OR.

    So not sure what’s going to happen when BT switch Analog off.

    1. Avatar photo OR says:

      sound like SoGfast are a waste of time as I knew they will not sold G.fast on it own without analogue phone service as for Zen Internet told you is totally right because Openreach want to keep G.fast higher expensive premium price must have line rental along with it is being stupid and overpriced.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Regretting ordering it already, Phil?

  12. Avatar photo BTMan says:

    I did a dummy order earlier on BT’s site – they are now offering a phone system with built in battery backup for £85 to purchase.

    1. Avatar photo BTMan says:

      In fact they do 2 options

      https://ibb.co/rfPmN0L

  13. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Openreach offered a discount scheme to ISPs who encourage customers to switch to digital voice early on, similar to the schemes encouraging the switch to FTTP.

    1. Avatar photo The witcher says:

      Openreach don’t provide Dv

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      No but they want people off PSTN.

    3. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      So what you’re saying is, Openreach should offer a discount scheme to get ISPs to migrate users from WLR+FTTC to SoGEA earlier?

      I guess they could – it would similar to the discount on upgrades to 80/20 they’re currently operating.

      But really, the ISPs are the ones who are going to suffer if they haven’t migrated all their users by Dec 2025 and there’s a mad rush at the end. After all, converting FTTC to SoGEA is an automated process at the Openreach side (no Openreach engineer needs to be sent out). It’s the ISP that’s responsible for providing a new router and helping the end user do any in-house changes, like moving their phone connections around.

      In short, there’s no reason for Openreach to incentivise this further.

  14. Avatar photo Tom says:

    There hasn’t been any practical information released regarding SOTAP, somewhat concerning as to what will happen to all those on long rural or EO lines and wish to retain a voice service given there is less than a month left before the stop-sell comes into effect.
    As others have said existing ADSL+PSTN circuits will continue to work until Dec 2025 but ISPs may decide not to allow renewal/recontracting to get a better price than the out-of-contract one.
    I suspect a number of ISPs may just not be bothered with SOTAP and will put up with loosing a few customers if neither SOGEA nor FTTP at their customers premises, much reducing competition for the customers in this situation.

  15. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Whats going to happen with plusnet who dont offer voip/sogea?

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Makes you wonder what BT intend to do with Plusnet. There appears to be no plans for digital voice. BT seems to be more concerned with making EE there consumer facing brand. Wouldn’t be surprised if Plusnet gets rolled in to EE as well.

    2. Avatar photo binary says:

      @Big Dave

      Plusnet is set to continue as BT’s no-frills budget brand – the problem for ‘legacy’ Plusnet customers who want to retain their phone number for a voice service is that, in the brave new world, a voice landline is evidently considered a ‘frill’.

      Presumably BT’s calculation is that, for whatever minority of people this may significantly inconvenience, the majority of ‘no-frill’ seekers will be content with it – and furthermore, those ‘legacy’ Plusnet punters who wish to have a ‘digital voice’ service might well end up signing up to the BT brand.

    3. Avatar photo David Jones says:

      Their router is basically a rebranded BT one including a phone socket at the back.

      Can’t see that it will be that difficult to roll out digital voice for £5 a pop like BT when the time comes.

    4. Avatar photo Steve says:

      EE appear to have quietly released their equivalent of BT’s Digital Voice, called Digital Home Phone, at the beginning of August (https://ee.co.uk/help/home-phone/getting-started/introducing-digital-home-phone). This could provide a migration path to EE for Plusnet customers who want to retain their “landline”, but equally could hint at the introduction of a similar product for Plusnet customers. Time will tell…

      And a minor correction to the above comment: Plusnet do do SoGEA.

  16. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    I renewed home fibre contract with Vodafone home this week. The lady asked if I use the home phone, I said I switched it off in 2019,

    Basically, from the renewal date this month the phone won’t work in the openreach socket. As standard, I’ll be receiving an adapter to put into the hub for the phone line.

  17. Avatar photo Ed R says:

    This is a good textual summary of the situation. Zen held a webinar which you can watch at https://youtu.be/Pe7nfQRKR2c which also describes the situation which you might be interested in watching.

  18. Avatar photo Nis says:

    There is the issue of pstn switchoff but also 3g by end of 2023.
    Got no prior warning for that by Vodafone or other suppliers and no information as to the full uk timetable. Any idea if this is readily available anywhere for both Vodafone and pstn?

    1. Avatar photo graham says:

      im with vodafone ( personal rather than business ) and its been on there website for months about 3g, link should be below, early 2024 for vodafone –

      https://www.vodafone.co.uk/help-and-information/3g-switch-off

    2. Avatar photo graham says:

      also the article above gives a link to openreach all about stop sell and the switch off dec 2025, pasted link below. ed r posted a you tube link that zen goes into it also, very informative

      https://www.openreach.co.uk/cpportal/products/the-all-ip-programme/stopsell-updates/

    3. Avatar photo Ben says:

      > Got no prior warning

      Respectfully, there’s been plenty of prior warning for 3G switch off.

      Ofcom warned of it a year ago: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/advice/3g-switch-off

      Vodafone published that page on their website in January 2022: https://web.archive.org/web/20220125081507/https://www.vodafone.co.uk/help-and-information/3g-switch-off

      If 3G switch off comes as a surprise to you, then you’ve been asleep at the wheel. Don’t forget that 2G will still work for calls (although that’ll also be phased out over the next 10 years).

      Digital Voice is definitely available from Vodafone because my parents use it — it requires the landline to be plugged directly into the back of the Vodafone router.

    4. Avatar photo Michael V says:

      Hey Nis.
      They have been contacting customers who have registered 3G devices to upgrade their devices. I have a 5G device so they didn’t need to send me a letter.
      It’s always best to check in on their website every few months to see what’s going on and Vodafone Media Centre site. There’s been plenty of talk about 3G switch off from them & other news sites & they’ve done it in 6 cities so far. EE have started and Three are in planning.
      As with any company you buyt a service from, keep yourself up to date with their news.

  19. Avatar photo Nicholas Roberts says:

    No doubt, as has been usual in recent times , all the changes that effect the customer end will be dealt with by giving more than adequate notice, ditto the advice as to what will happen next,and will be seamless as far as the customer is concerned and involve a minimum of “Do-it-yourself” adminstration by the customer to make things work half-properly . . in other words just like the NHS.

    1. Avatar photo Dassa says:

      There has been more than adequate notice throughout the industry (over 6 years).

      It is for the people who sell to the public to look after their customers. If your supplier isn’t looking after you as you expect the you have the option of moving to someone else.

      It is fairly clear that BT have a plan for their customers. Other suppliers will have varying levels of preparedness.

  20. Avatar photo Nicholas Roberts says:

    Standard Corporate Operational Procedure will be observed i.e. FTC at all times . . . something about fluff

  21. Avatar photo JaneH says:

    I found your website when looking for information on this as my father-in-law is going to be up for contract renewal next year and is getting worried about it. He lives in a small Somerset town where he currently has pretty awful internet speeds despite being on fibre and a low mobile phone signal. After reading this page I thought he would be ok switching to TalkTalk or Sky. However, the Sky website now says all phone connections will be internet connections so I’m not sure if this exception is happening or not. Have you any idea?

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