17 May 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
BT’s last-mile subsidiary, Openreach, has launched a consultation on moving its services from analogue to all-IP.
It said the consultation will help prepare the industry for
the upgrade to voice over IP (VoIP) technology and the
withdrawal of wholesale products and services that run over the
traditional analogue telephone network – which is due
to close in 2025.
BT announced yesterday that it wanted its
services, which are delivered to customers by Openreach, to
move to all-IP.
Carriers in the UK market – most of which use
Openreach to connect to residential and business customers
– have 10 weeks to file their responses.
"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 Openreach product director Mark Logan.
"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."
Openreach is still owned 100% by BT, but is now a separately
managed company with its own board. BT’s rivals,
including Vodafone and Sky, have lobbied for it to be carved
out as a completely separate business, perhaps owned by all
telcos in the UK market.
The company said that it has been trialling two broadband-only
services that are due to launch later this year. These are
single order GEA (SOGEA) and single order Gfast (SOGfast) and
Openreach says both offer similar connectivity to its existing
fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) services, but without the need for
a bundled analogue voice product.
Logan said: "The move from analogue to digital opens up
exciting opportunities for our [wholesale customers] to develop
new products and services which will drive their businesses
forward and meet their customers’ demands for
decades to come."
The move, if it goes ahead, will see Openreach closing down
access to the traditional copper-based public switched
telephone network (PSTN) and the Integrated Services Digital
Network (ISDN), developed in the 1980s to deliver such high
speeds – at the time – as 128kbps to business
Openreach has posted an online briefing for communications
providers, but it is available only to companies with an
Openreach portal ID and password. It is having briefings in a
number of UK cities starting next week.