Openreach held a consultation with communications providers (CPs) over preparations for the monumental task of shifting circa 16 million telephone lines in the UK to voice-over-IP by 2025.
The move is part of the Openreach plan to shut its traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) in the United Kingdom and shift customers onto a mainly fibre-based network. As such, Openreach will withdraw its Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products, which are reliant on the PSTN.
The PSTN is an amalgamation of networks. In the UK, the PSTN is linked with the formation of the General Post Office telephones, dating back to the late 1880s although the current generation of equipment dates back to the 1980s.
"This is a significant change for CPs and the wider industry. Over 16 million lines will need to migrate to alternative services by the end of 2025 and CPs will also need to consider how customer’s equipment (both residential and business) may need to be upgraded to support All IP voice services."
From 2023, the company will no longer supply WLR products. James Lilley, general manager for copper and service products at Openreach, noted the business already plans to shift three million premises to full fibre by 2020 and 10 million customers to its ultrafast hybrid fibre and copper G.Fast product. Both of these will be compatible with the PSTN replacement.
“Our aim is to have as many customers [as possible] on fibre products. But there will still be a gap for those who can’t get fibre,” he said.
“So as part of the consultation there will be a new copper product to fill that gap [that will be VoIP compatible]."