BT-owned infrastructure provider Openreach has confirmed plans to stop sales of copper-based phone and broadband services in 77 exchange locations across the UK, affecting roughly 700,000 premises.
The “stop-sell” order will come into effect on April 29, 2022. Included in the 77 locations are Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, Hayes in Greater London, Kelso in Scotland, and Coleraine in Northern Ireland.
Those clinging to their legacy-based copper phone lines won’t necessarily see any immediate changes to service. However, the “stop sell” order means that anyone who switches broadband or landline providers will only be able to choose from products delivered over fibre.
The announcement came days after Openreach activated a stop-sell order in the small Sussex town of Mildenhall.
Mildenhall was selected due to the diversity of providers operating in the area, as well as its ideal mix of business and home users. Openreach said it hopes the shift to fibre-delivered telecoms in the town will allow providers to iron out the kinks in their transition processes, ahead of the wider withdrawal of the legacy copper network.
In a statement, James Lilley, director of Managed Customer Migrations, described the new stop-sell orders as “a really big deal for our industry.”
“Whilst we’re building more and more full fibre infrastructure across the country, we’re also working closely with our communications providers customers to plan the withdrawal of legacy services and make upgrades from copper to fibre as smooth as possible. This is the next step on that journey – a further commitment that we’ll stop selling copper products in areas where Full Fibre’s going to be widely available,” he said.
Openreach plans to cease sales of new analogue products nationwide by 2025, with the aim of shifting more and more people to fibre. The provider has previously cited the cost of running two parallel networks as a justification for the transition from copper.
Although fibre promises faster speeds and improved reliability for broadband users, it’s a little more complicated when talking about phone products.
Landline connections delivered over fibre will require the use of a router, regardless of whether the user has broadband. Openreach has said telcos will provide these for free. Certain telephone-based alarm systems may also cease to function, and punters may be forced to replace their phone handset with a newer compatible model.
Additionally, as fibre-based telephony products are powered via the mains, rather than via the telephone exchange, there’s a potential for a loss of service during power outages. ®