BT's plans to switch off analogue phone network gather momentum

Openreach has written to communications partners about the withdrawal of Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products as BT pushes ahead with plans to migrate users from analogue phone networks to Voice over IP (VoIP).

BT has wanted to kickstart this shift for some time and wants to complete the migration by 2025 so its voice services can better compete with over the top (OTT) providers like Skype.

However regulation has dictated that it must offer the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for as long as there was demand from customers.

Switch off

According to The Register, Openreach told third parties it was seeking feedback on the changes and on a timeline for the withdrawal of WLP products that are dependent on PSTN.

“In May [2018], we’ll consult with industry around the process of withdrawing WLR and related products,” an Openreach spokesperson confirmed to TechRadar Pro.

“This follows plans by BT to upgrade its customers from analogue (PSTN) to digital (all IP) telephone services by 2025.

“We’ll be working with our Communication Provider customers over the coming months as we consider the move to IP voice services – where broadband rather than voice becomes the primary service.”

Despite the ongoing shift to fibre there’s still plenty of life left in copper, which is essential for fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and G.Fast networks. However BT has made no secret of its future ambitions for converged networks, powered by fibre and 5G, which would provide an impression of seamless connectivity no matter what technology is used. Wireless can provide the coverage, while fixed adds the processing power.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.