Openreach signals start of switch from analogue to digital phone lines

Openreach has kicked off the beginning of the end for analogue phone lines with the launch of a major consultation process.

The company has revealed it is to consult with its customers and telecom industry groups about the planned withdrawal of products that make use of BT’s analogue phone network.

Parent BT has made it clear it wants to migrate all users from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to IP by 2025 so its voice services can compete better with over the top (OTT) like Skype and WhatsApp.

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

Digital move

Several Openreach services, including Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) and ISDN), rely on PSTN and therefore it wants to gain the views of its 600-strong customer base.

It plans to offer a transitional product called Single Order Transitional Access Product (SOTAP), as well as two new products that do not require a bundled telephone line. These are Single Order GEA (SOGEA) and Single Order Gfast (SOGfast).

“We’re launching this consultation because we’re committed to play a leading role in helping the industry move from analogue to digital products by 2025,” said Mark Logan, product director at Openreach.

“As our customers demand faster and more reliable connectivity, we’ve already accelerated our plans to build more Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband technology across Britain, and we expect to reach three million premises by the end of 2020. At the same time, we’re developing new, digital, broadband-only products that will no longer rely on BT’s ageing analogue voice platform.”

Before the end of the month, Openreach will host customer events in Birmingham, Leeds, London and Edinburgh to explain the changes and gather feedback.

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.