Openreach adds 98 more exchanges to digital migration plans

(Image credit: Openreach)

Openreach has detailed a further 98 exchanges where it will stop selling legacy copper-based services to communications providers as part of its migration from analogue to digital-based services.

BT-owned Openreach wants to complete the switchover from Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to IP by December 2025 so its voice services can compete better with over the top (OTT) offerings such as Skype and WhatsApp.

Whereas PSTN requires a complex network of physical lines, IP services only need the Internet to function, meaning communications providers could simply deliver a digital voice service over the top of a more modern broadband system.

Openreach copper

Openreach is rolling out full fibre broadband to 26 million homes and business by 2026, and has so far announced 550 exchanges where it will stop selling analogue services to third parties such as Sky, TalkTalk, and BT itself within the next 12 months, covering five million premises.

Services have now been withdrawn at 181 of these exchanges, covering two million properties, and Openreach has now detailed two trial areas in Salisbury and Mildenhall where services will be switched off entirely by 2023.

“Twelve months ago, we informed our Communication Provider customers that we would stop selling copper products in exchanges that reach 75% full fibre coverage,” said James Lilley, Director for managed customer migrations, Openreach.

“Just over two years from now, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And over the next four years, we’ll upgrade some 13 million analogue lines – including the now ageing traditional landline telephone service – to digital All-Internet Protocol (All-IP).

“As part of this huge transformation programme, we’ve been preparing to withdraw older analogue products in two trial areas - Salisbury and Mildenhall - and we’re now notifying Communications Providers that these products will be withdrawn in Spring 2023. 

“We’re working closely with broadband providers and the wider industry to make sure customers can be upgraded smoothly and these trials are helping us to identify and address any issues that might prevent that.”

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.