Stop Sell dates for copper in UK telephone exchanges

Stop Sell dates for copper in UK telephone exchanges

The move to PSTN switch off continues in the UK as BT Openreach publishes Stop Sell dates.

UK infrastructure provider Openreach some years ago made known their intention to switch off the old fashioned Public Switched Telephone Network (ie the copper phone network) in 2025. Still 4 years off the UK is now starting to show early signs that the end of the network is coming and Openreach have announced that 297 exchanges have been given dates for Stop Sell notices over the next twelve months. This is where new orders for copper based phone lines will no longer be accepted and is planned for exchanges which will have 75% penetration of Fibre to the Premises

Whilst this number represents only around 5% of the nearly 5600 telephone exchanges in the UK it is a clear, first, sign of the beginning of the end of the Public Switched Telecoms Network or PSTN.

The Electric Telegraph Company was formed in the UK in 1846 beginning a process that led to Victorian Britain becoming a “wired nation” – essentially the birth of the PSTN.  By the time it is switched off in 2025 the UK copper network will be 179 years old!

The fact that the old phone network being switched off doesn’t mean no more telephony. It doesn’t even mean no more copper as Openreach will still be relying on Fibre To The Cabinet for a few years after 2025. FTTC uses copper for the last few hundred metres from the “green BT” cabinet.

However the copper network is being replaced by fibre and indeed the exchanges in this first announcement are those that will have reached 75% of penetration of fibre connections to premises served in the coming year. The current expectation is that 20m (out of 32m) UK premises will have been reached by Openreach (part of BT) by the mid to late 2020s.

The move away from copper will benefit Openreach by massively reducing their operating/maintenance costs and will also create a platform for the growth of next generation services.

This, of course, is where Netaxis comes in. Our growth is being underpinned by the move away from the PSTN to all IP services and our investment in product development is exactly geared to catch this huge wave.

Everything we do is with network operator and service provider customers rolling out new services that will benefit from modern IP infrastructures. The days of the desktop telephone are very much numbered. Whilst this is a dramatic statement you only have to think about how many of us really use that telephone handset on our desk. The user interface of choice these days is either the (increasingly) smartphone or indeed the computer screen in front of us.

The PSTN switch off is being planned in numerous countries with some being ahead of the game and others taking an extremely conservative long view. France, for example has set itself 2030  to get it all done.

Germany is ahead of the UK but appears to have encountered problems associated with the aggressive nature of its timescales. You can’t rush a project of this enormity and the problems associated with the early forced changes in Germany were ostensibly due to inadequate communications with end customers.

Eventually the old copper networks will have disappeared everywhere and Netaxis are truly excited about the opportunities that this brings to our business. It is very complementary to what we are doing in the cloud with our own products and services. Our partners, the likes of Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle, are already very much there in various stages of maturity and we work with these businesses on our own cloud based offerings.

Expect some exciting announcements in the forthcoming months in respect of what we are doing in this space. In the meantime take a look at this blog post that describes our Microsoft Teams lab setup that includes Azure and AWS artefacts.