Openreach consults on all-IP move for wholesale last-mile

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 users.

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.