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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Jones

Openreach Name 51 UK Areas for Copper Phone to Fibre Switch inc. parts of CWAC

Openreach (BT) has told ISPs of another 51 UK exchange locations where they intend to move away from their old copper-based analogue phone (PSTN / WLR etc.) services and on to a new all-IP network, which will apply in areas that receive over 75% coverage via their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network.

Before we get started it’s important to clarify that there are two different, albeit closely related, stages to moving away from the old copper line telecoms network and its eventual withdrawal. The first starts with a gradual migration of traditional voice (PSTN) services to all-IP technologies (e.g. VoIP), which is due to complete by December 2025 and is occurring on copper line (e.g. SOGEA) products (i.e. many copper and full fibre ISPs will need to introduce IP based voice solutions for customers).

Meanwhile the second stage reflects the on-going deployment of faster FTTP broadband technologies (these use light signals instead of electrical ones like copper). Only after that second stage has largely completed in an exchange area can you really start to switch-off copper in favour of fibre, which is a longer process (i.e. it takes time to deploy FTTP and then you have to allow time for natural customer migration etc.).

As above, the process for moving from copper to FTTP lines begins once 75% of premises in an exchange are able to receive that full fibre connectivity. The target for this is often c.24 months after the fibre roll-out starts, while the copper switch-off might then occur c.3 years after that (consumer migration is a slow process). The pace of this progress may vary from place to place, as some areas will be faster to tackle than others.

The migration process itself usually starts with a “no move back” policy for premises connected with FTTP (i.e. no going back to copper), followed by a “stop-sell” of copper services to new customers (12-months’ notice is usually given before this starts) and ultimately full withdrawal.

The New Areas

Until today a total of 169 FTTP exchange upgrades had been notified (c.1.8 million UK premises) as part of the aforementioned process (including the Salisbury trial exchange). The first batch of 118 UK exchange locations, where they would stop selling their old analogue phone services by 29th June 2021, were announced in May 2020 (here).

After that a further 51 were announced in October 2020 (here), which means that FTTP will be available to more than 75% of homes in these locations by 5th October 2021 and thus the migration can begin. Now we have a second batch of 51 exchange locations, which brings the total to 220 and this batch will see a “stop sell” being introduced from 25th January 2022.

Unlike previous announcements Openreach has not yet released the latest list to the public, which is a little odd since consumers will be directly affected by these changes and need to be kept informed. As such we’ve had to piece it together ourselves and the result is below. We would encourage the network access provider to ensure this information is always made public.

Jan 2021 List of 51 New ‘stop sell’ Exchanges

Exchange Name Location

Binley Coventry

Shirley Solihull

Billericay Basildon

Hardingstone Northampton

Eeartree Derby

Whitburn West Lothian

Formby Sefton

Epsom Epsom and Ewell

Molesey Greater London

Aughton Green West Lancashire

Birkenhead Wirral

Chorleywood Three Rivers

Chapeltown Leeds

Crossgates Leeds

Moortown Leeds

Whitley Bay North Tyneside

Balby Doncaster

Woodhouse Sheffield

North Bristol, City of

Brock Wyre

Chwilog Gwynedd

Bungay Waveney

Sheering Epping Forest

Southminster Maldon

Anstruther Fife

Lundin Links Fife

West Calder West Lothian

Burscough West Lancashire

Clitheroe Ribble Valley

Croston Chorley

Fleetwood Wyre

Rufford West Lancashire

Betchworth Mole Valley

Neston Cheshire West and Chester

Congleton Cheshire East

Kirkburton Kirklees

West Kingsdown Sevenoaks

Crook County Durham

Olney Milton Keynes

Tarvin Cheshire West and Chester

Okehampton West Devon

Campsie Derry-Londonderry

Carrickfergus Carrickfergus

Castledawson Castledawson

Comber Newtownards & Bangor

Cross Derry-Londonderry

Dundrum Dundrum

Portavogie Portavogie

Portstewart Portstewart

Warrenpoint Warrenpoint, The Burren

Whitehead Whitehead, Ballycarry

Article by Mark Jackson ISPreview

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