back to article Switch about to get real: Openreach bod on the challenge of shuttering UK's copper phone lines

Most people are unaware of the huge infrastructure challenge the UK is about to undergo as 15 million phone lines are switched off. Openreach is aiming to punt its traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) onto voice over IP (VoIP) by 2025 and withdraw its Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products, which are reliant on …

  1. elaar

    Bye Bye Fax

    Finally, the death of the traditional fax machine is in sight.

    It's unbelievable the number of institutions (the NHS mainly) that continue to use them, making migrations onto VOIP that bit more complicated.

    1. Martin hepworth

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      Fax and NHS is dieing more rapidly than the NHS itseft..

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-ban-fax-machines-2020-cyber-security-matt-hancock-a8674411.html

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bye Bye Fax

        The other weekend there was article in the Times magazine about Deep Mind in the NHS. The reporter was being shown round a participating hospital where there was fax (sneer), pager (sneer) and a PC system. The PCs would regularly crash which might explain why these sneered at old technologies were still in use.

        The Deep Mind bit was picking up creatine levels from haematology and sending an alert to a nephrologist. To send the alert they were using a purpose written app for the nephrologists' phones. IOW they were reinventing the pager (sneer) for the phone but only for one of the many possible alerts that might need to be sent out.

        I suppose that as this magic bullet gets extended to other conditions for which an alert might be needed we'll get Matt Hanckock's wet dream: a multitude of HNS apps for the doctors' phones. Eventually someone might realise the toll taken on the performance of the phone and come up with an all purpose alert app. They could call it Pager.

        1. 96percentchimp

          Re: Bye Bye Fax

          Have to wonder why they didn't use one of the multitude of available pager-style channels like SMS or WhatsApp for such a trial, security concerns notwithstanding. Eventually you might require a comprehensive and secure app channel for a family of such services, but that should be in the roadmap.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      Sorry to annonce to you that Fax is definately not dead..

      Here in Switzerland for example the country has already gone through the switchover to SIP. It was nowhere near as catastrophic as this article is portaying.. We were well warned in advance, which helped a lot.. You don't want to be at the rear end of the changeover, be an early adopter....

      Solutions exist for most existing scenarios :

      Faxes and other analog devices can have an Analog-To-Sip convertor sitting between them and the PBX, this is for the scenario where the PBX is already full SIP compliant..

      Alterrnatively, when the PBX is still Analogic or digital(ISDN), a convertor can sit between the PBX and the Session Border Controller which means that anything behind your PBX requires no changes whatsoever.

      Telecom providers don't publish much information about these devices but they definately exist and they work just fine.. I've gone through the scenario and can confirm this first hand... Telcos understand that not everyone can change within the given limits and as such are obliged to have alternative solutions...

      1. elaar

        Re: Bye Bye Fax

        "Here in Switzerland for example the country has already gone through the switchover to SIP."

        Sorry, I thought it was obvious that my specific issue with the Fax is that it uses a PSTN line (the main point of the article). I have no issue with a Fax implementation that uses SIP, or other digital methods.

        Considering there's a lot of CCGs that are actually having to import traditional Fax Machines from the US because of a lack of supply in the UK, and that they're paying a small fortune for a business BT line in order to send/receive half a dozen pharmaceutical orders a day, it's a huge waste.

        P.S - We have found many analogue-sip converters when used for Faxes aren't great for reliability. We tend to use them more for things like DECT phones/PA systems etc.

        1. david 12 Bronze badge

          Re: Bye Bye Fax

          Sorry, I thought it was obvious that my specific issue with the Fax is that it uses a PSTN line (the main point of the article). I have no issue with a Fax implementation that uses SIP, or other digital methods.

          It was obvious, which is why it got the reply it did, pointing out that a Fax which uses a PSTN line can equally use a PSTN emulator, that is, an analog to sip converter.

          There is actually a bit of a problem: the common codecs used for voip aren't very good with FAX signals: they are specifically designed to discard data from voice signals that does not contribute to intelligibility. I don't know how important this problem is: I've heard conflicting advice, but it's all from people who (like the postings here) are pushing a particular point of view.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bye Bye Fax

            Last time I looked, any reasonably recent fax setup with error correction and such would likely fail abysmally with voice-oriented codecs because end to end VoIP latency was always going to be unable to match 'PSTN' latency, and the increased latency with VoIP was unacceptable for many fax machines/standards.

            YMMV.

            https://www.dialogic.com/-/media/products/docs/whitepapers/12687-t38-g711-foip-wp.pdf

    3. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      I think FAX machines have protocols that work over VoIP.

      1. Toltec

        Re: Bye Bye Fax

        T.38

        The amusing thing is that there are people running eFax/fax-to-email sending faxes to other people doing the same thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bye Bye Fax

          "[...] sending faxes to other people doing the same thing."

          A customer had communicating sites whose upgrade budgets were never in sync. They exchanged data over a comms link which had had its protocol upgraded many times. They couldn't do a major upgrade of both ends simultaneously with a totally clean implementation. So they merely added another layer of encapsulation. When you stripped the encapsulation layers away - the data layer was 5 track Telex tape encoding.

          In fact they also wanted a Plan B of physical Telex tape from the mainframe - that could be sent by a human courier if the comms links were out.

    4. adam 40 Bronze badge

      Bye Bye Neo

      Well, that's the Matrix in charge then, no more analogue lines for Neo to get back home...

      I guess there won't be a Matrix V.

    5. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      OH no!

      How is Worcester Education Dept going to cope without fax?

      Yes, I am being serious, they are FIRMLY in the 20th Century, right down to activeX scripts in the MicroGit encoded newsletters they send out

      Without the scripts running, the newsletter is just a mess of over written text and images.

      We had to keep a fax machine and a copy of MSO2000 JUST for their communications.

    6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      Awww, how cute. Thinking you can kill the undead.

      When the world comes to an end, somewhere in the universe there will be a light blinking on a fax machine reporting a paper jam!

      1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: Bye Bye Fax

        Sir.

        Fax machines are the future. Some day there will be one in every home.

        Electronically yours,

        J. R. Hartley

    7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Bye Bye Fax

      Finally, the death of the traditional fax machine is in sight.

      Why ?

      The idea is that there will still be a POTS socket the user can plug into, and it'll still work just as the old POTS line did. You forget that ALL phone calls in this country (UK) are already carried digitally using 64kbps channels - but at the moment with POTS lines the conversion takes place in teh line card at the exchange.

      With ISDN (2 or 30) which has been around for "a lot of years", the conversion point is moved to the users' premises - and at one time BT had a service where the NTE had two POTS sockets and a built in TA.

      All that will happen is that the NTE (or for a while, a separate box) will have a POTS to <something digital> converter and the user will still have a "POTS line" for all intents. My assumption is that it will be a closed system so BT and OpenRetch will have a closed system to manage, and they'll use a separate VLAN (or two) to carry the phone traffic so they can properly manage traffic and ensure no latency issues during high data rate periods.

      And I also believe that in trials that have already been done, the NTE was main power but had backup batteries so the POTS line still worked with the power out.

  2. Chloe Cresswell

    My customers are going to have fun...

    They are only due to be upgraded to FTTC by august 2020.. so unless OR upgrade them to FTTP soon, anyone on FTTC will lose that first level of testing for a fault: plugging in a phone and seeing if it's live.

    1. elaar

      Re: My customers are going to have fun...

      And does that mean FTTC circuits will no longer have PSTN references (and maybe just the BBEU)?. It might make identifying physical sockets tricky considering the number of times BT install just a blank socket and you need to dial 17070 to identify it.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: My customers are going to have fun...

        Agreed.

  3. Barrie Shepherd

    There is a good model of how not to do it, as well as "if it can go wrong it will go wrong" lessons, over in the Australian National Broadband Network.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      NBN 2.0, coming soon

      100% coal based infrastructure.

      Proudly sponsored by our 19th century Liberal Party.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    So they're going to get into everybody's phone line master sockets by 2025?

    Yeah, right.

    Like others were going to replace every smart meter by this year.

    How do you intend to do that around every workplace, every home, every person's work life, in any kind of reasonable timescale? You have just over 1800 days in which to get into every house in Britain (approximately 27 million). That's 15,000 home visits a day, if you started now, not counting problems, people not being available, bank holidays, Christmas, etc.

    Unlike the digital TV switchover, people aren't going to buy new phones/sockets and do it themselves. Unlike the digital TV switchover, they gain nothing from it and likely lose services. Unlike the digital TV switchover, you have to actually change the cabling to every house - including those kilometres down country roads with 50+ year old cable strung through trees, etc.

    It's not going to happen, and you're going to overrun that schedule by a decade or more. And the money you get back from the copper really isn't going to be worth it.

    Or, take me. I never activated the BT line when I moved in. I didn't see the point, it was more expensive than just using a 4G router. I'm not going to have a day off to let people in to upgrade a line I never intend to use. Presumably they'll be running a legacy conversion program for years past the deadline to convert such lines, and probably charging customers through the nose to do so (the same way they wanted £160 from me to turn back on a switch to make the line work before they would do anything else).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Unlike the digital TV switchover, people aren't going to buy new phones/sockets and do it themselves."

      There may be a built in assumption that people will be expected to buy new phones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "There may be a built in assumption that people will be expected to buy new phones."

        Do copper lines still support the old "break" method of phone dialling - or only tone dialling? My back up hard wired phone handsets have both settings - but tone initiates the call more quickly.

      2. Anne Hunny Mouse

        They will probably supply some form of ATA to do SIP conversion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Or, take me. I never activated the BT line when I moved in. I didn't see the point, it was more expensive than just using a 4G router. I'm not going to have a day off to let people in to upgrade a line I never intend to use

      Or take me, I live in a shit mobile signal area but I do get a rock solid 80/20 on an 80/20 FTTC line being near the cabinet and all

      I'm Alright Jack ?

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      So they're going to get into everybody's phone line master sockets by 2025?

      No. As several of us have been saying they are only turning off WLR. As per the article:

      But unlike Salisbury, where the copper lines are being switched off as part of a huge upgrade to fibre-to-the-premises, in Mildenhall consumers will still be on copper VoIP products.

      I suppose a belt-and-braces approach would be to block up the PSTN socket but since it's filtered there's probably no need so the master socket can be left alone. You just plug a VoIP compatible phone into your router (or a VoIP box onto your LAN if your router doesn't have a VoIP socket).

      Or take me, I live in a shit mobile signal area but I do get a rock solid 80/20 on an 80/20 FTTC line being near the cabinet and all

      I'm Alright Jack ?

      Yes. As noted, you just need to install a VoIP phone on your LAN. Probably won't even need a new telephone, just get a box that does the VoIP stuff.

      You might need a simple RJ45 adapator but that's all

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You might need a simple RJ45 adapator but that's all"

        My master socket has a "emergency" handset - and a ring extender in a cable run to feed hard-wired extensions in 10 locations in the house. Will that need a special VOIP converter to run that lot seamlessly?

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          My master socket has a "emergency" handset - and a ring extender in a cable run to feed hard-wired extensions in 10 locations in the house. Will that need a special VOIP converter to run that lot seamlessly?

          If it's anything like people I know over here, you'll find that they wish to completely ignore and bypass any existing wiring and no matter how many and how good the phones/jacks are in your house, you have to buy their "special" phone on sale from them for 10 easy monthly payments of only $159.95 (despite the same model being available down the BigBox for $79.95).

          Got an elderly friend about to be force-changed, with an easy-to-use phone by his bed he got to know well long before the first indication of Alzheimers. I shall be there having some interesting conversations with the installers, also pointing out that should they refuse to carry out the clear instructions then they will be trespassed off the property and quite the little media ruckus will be made of their trying to bully such a person into something he doesn't want (aside from concerns about his medical stuff as well, making sure all of that runs without the least bit of interruption)

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Power failure?

            The couple next door have a panic button medical alert thing that is powered by the phone line so it works even if the power is off. I also made sure they have an old hard wired phone that works in a power failure.

            Now Bell has installed fiber and is trying to force everyone onto fiber, and everyone onto TV/Internet/phone bundles (they told me just internet would be the same special price but didn't know what the after one year regular price was.)

            They were pissing me off so I've been playing Luddite. Now I know why they were so hot to get everyone signed up because the cable company is not making holes all over the place to install cable so I'll have two (equally bad) suppliers to pick from. Once they are done I can expect some more offers for TV/Internet/phone.

    4. sebbb

      If they had done this seriously like in other EU countries, ISPs just give you a modem/router with built-in VoIP converter or you can just buy your own and they give you configs to setup VoIP (or autoconfiguration through TR169 like on Fritz!Box). For those with bare phone line, a small ATA preconfigured can be shipped to you.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        UK ISPs (actually their official name is CP - Communication Provider - because most do more than just internet services) are free to provide a VoIP service if they want (mine does but currently only to business users). It's just that until now there's been little need to make it available to residential customers. It's far simpler all round to let residential customers continue doing what they have been for the last 40 years - buy a phone and plug it into the phone socket.

        Any CP can resell the openreach service through the WLR product. That's how most CPs (including BT) provide telephony services. Some CPs have gone a different route (called LLU) and have installed their own telecoms equipment in exchanges. They should be unaffected by the withdrawal of WLR but are presumably planning what they intend to do if/when copper is actually shut down.

        From the sound of it the UK telecoms industry appears to intend doing exactly what you say other EU countries did. But first all the CPs have to be given a chance to comment on the plans and to prepare themselves. That's all this is. A perfectly sensible planning session to minimise the disruption.

        WLR is very widely used and openreach can't just cancel the product overnight and leave CPs scrambling to provide their customers with an alternative.

    5. david 12 Bronze badge

      On the other hand, there are plenty of places like Germany and Australia that are already switching off the POTS telephone service, so there is plenty of experience with how the process goes.

  5. Mike 125

    'Open'reach?

    >As Openreach doesn't deal with customers directly,

    Yea... funny, that. Almost like it was a precondition.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: 'Open'reach?

      Over Reach

    2. john.jones.name

      the directory

      the real fun will be the emergency services and access to unbundled lines...

      I wonder if they are going to support ENUM internally or is it going to be a X.500 ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Open'reach?

      >'Open'reach?

      Alternatively OpenWide because it's just like going to the dentist, both costly and painful.

  6. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    FAIL

    For 2025 read 2075

    When it comes to places like the Isle of Skye (same size as Greater London but a population of under 13,000), I will be VERY surprised if the change over is completed within a decade of the supposed end date. Running a fibre link for miles to serve a single house makes very little economic sense.

    There is also a safety issue - the current PSTN system allows calls (including emergency calls) to be made even when mains power is unavailable as basic landline phones are powered by the exchange. How is the proposed new setup going to provide this service. (On the Isle of Skye as an example there are many spots without ANY mobile phone coverage so this cannot be the alternative.)

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: For 2025 read 2075

      For fttp lines, the ONT can have a battery backup fitted, client of mine's has this.

      The battery is as old as the install, and doesn't appear to hold any real charge any more, however. I have no idea who's responsibility this is (ONT is openreach, original subscriber's connection on eth1 was BT, my client is on eth2 with Zen) to fix...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: For 2025 read 2075

        "I have no idea who's responsibility this is"

        In practice, the customer I'd guess.

        1. Chloe Cresswell

          Re: For 2025 read 2075

          Yeah, would be nice if the customer got any documentation.

          OR didn't even tell Zen to start with which network port we should use. So we tried eth1, and got a BT broadband error.

          Even with only a zen connection on it, we have to be connected to eth2, and eth1 is still connected to part of BTB!

      2. Roland6 Silver badge
        1. Chloe Cresswell

          Re: For 2025 read 2075

          I love the way that's worded: "The battery back-up unit is charged by your Openreach fibre modem." Interesting, on my client's unit, the openreach PSU plugs into the BBU, and the BBU connects to the ONT.

          So in our case, the BBU powers the ONT, not the ONT charging the BBU..

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: For 2025 read 2075

        That battery will last a couple of hours, and needs to be replaced every 4 or 5 years, from personal experience. Even a small UPS will only keep you up for about 8 hours. Again, from personal experience.

        An auto-start generator is nice, but you're only talking days without refuelling.

        Solar and a small battery bank is probably your best bet for longer term outages.

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: For 2025 read 2075

      I take your point, but the article did state that actually removing the copper will be delayed until 2027 (with digital over copper being available in that time).

      I expect that date will be far more vulnerable to regular adjustments.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: For 2025 read 2075

      Downside:

      - No phone without local UPS if power fails

      - Longer time to repair outages (splicing fiber is harder than splicing copper)

      - More complex infrastructure

      Upside:

      - Cheaper broadband for all (because fiber in place of copper)

      - No copper infrastructure albatross to support

      - FTTC in remote locations

      Here in the USA, I held onto my copper line, until I got a letter saying, essentially, "let us switch you to fiber or we'll cut you off". So I let them switch me, then cancelled. Now, I have both fiber and coax from the cable provider, and I can play the two off against each other.

      My landline, which gets little use, is via OOMA VOIP. At 1/4 the monthly cost of what it was from the telco, with no long distance charges.

      I do regret the loss of the ultra-reliable POTS network, but accept the fact that it is no longer profitably sustainable to support two networks.

      RIP POTS

    4. Crypto Monad

      Re: For 2025 read 2075

      > Running a fibre link for miles to serve a single house makes very little economic sense.

      Except this article isn't about replacing copper with fibre: it's about withdrawing analogue telephony services over the copper. The copper can still be used to deliver data services: FTTC (from the cabinet) or ADSL (from the exchange). Voice will become VOIP over that. That's what's being talked about for 2025, no more.

      In a completely unrelated development, Boris said we should move forward the aspirational target for replacing copper with fibre* from 2033 to 2025. That one will almost certainly go out of the window as undeliverable. If we get to even 50% fibre coverage by 2025 it would be a huge achievement.

      *He's already watered down "fibre" to "gigabit-capable". That's so that properties covered by Virgin Media will count, once they've upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1.

      Aside: as for whether running fibre for miles to serve a single house makes sense: fibre is cheaper to buy than copper, fails less often, doesn't need those pesky powered street cabinets, and allows customers to buy higher speed (and hence more expensive) services. So in the end, yes it will make sense: but when there's existing copper, the payback period for upgrading could be long.

  7. STOP_FORTH
    Boffin

    Minor technical nitpick

    Nobody ever "switches off analogue". The digital systems that replace analogue anything are all analogue at Layer 1.

    Kids today!

    1. Richard Boyce

      Re: Minor technical nitpick

      Well, below that individual electrons. You might call that digital, in a weird quantum way.

      I guess whether it's digital depends on the resolution of the sensors. It's functionally digital if you are able to detect increments; if you're reading instead of just measuring.

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Thumb Up

        Re: Minor technical nitpick

        You can usually extract some kind of eyeheight or constellation display from most digital systems. Even in the absence of noise, channel bandwidth constraints prevent 100% eyeheight or perfect dots.

        There's no need to believe me, switch on an oscilloscope, if you can still find one.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Minor technical nitpick

          There's no need to believe me, switch on an oscilloscope, if you can still find one.

          Surprisingly, I can actually.

          But it's been in a mates garage for >20 years. A garage that has had a couple of floods (last one more than 10 years back - fixed the leaking storm drain). I plan to probably literally fire it up one day. I suspect any indication of function will really be all smoke and mirrors.. ;)

  8. Roopee

    Why?

    Unless I blinked and missed it, nowhere in the article does it suggest what possible benefit there might be for customers (or even for the telcos).

    Presumably there is a long-term cost saving otherwise the industry wouldn't be spending its own money on it, but surely there are much higher priorities - in particular getting decent broadband connections to the people who are crying out for them, such as rural businesses and even domestic customers in new builds where the new infrastructure is insufficient or non-existent. I have several clients in both categories.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      There are a couple of reasons :

      A SIP connection can be established from a multitude of devices, not necassarily a landline attached to a copper line. In case of emergency you can always create a SIP connection whilst your main line is being reparted for example.

      It's much easier to transfer, switch lines when moving for example..

      It's very easy for the Telcos to switch where SIP connections should be sent. We have a redundant site which I can controle via a web Interface that allows me to move all our numbers, 200 of them, to our secondary site in less than a minute. Our provider give us multiple scenarios that we create, modify and activate as per our wishes at no extra cost.

      SIP allows for far more information to be sent down the line, Callers Name etc....

      SIP has functionality that ISDN, Analogue does not, but this is very much vendor specific. I believe that within the basic SIP specs there are 18 functions, Call, Transfer, Conf Call, Hold etc ...

      SIP eliminates the need for dedicated copper lines. Everything can go down the same FibreOptic or IP connected line.. This makes it far easier to have redundancy, at least for large entitys.

      1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        'This makes it far easier to have redundancy, at least for large entitys.'

        I currently use separate Adsl connections as a backup to our fibre connections and also PSTN as a backup for our SIP PBX's

        To be honest the fibre connections are quite reliable and the UPS covers the PBX, PSTN Gateway and the modem /routers for around 4 hours. The alarm systems also have battery backup and 3G / mobile data backup.

        Guess im going to have to replace all the PSTN and VDSL backups with 3G... No idea if any mobile providers will supply static IPV4 over that though :/ (needed for my SIP provider, VPN's etc)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why?

          "Guess im going to have to replace all the PSTN and VDSL backups with 3G... No idea if any mobile providers will supply static IPV4 over that though :/ (needed for my SIP provider, VPN's etc)"

          We have 2 scenarios :

          Scenario 1 : Our secondary office is functioning : We send all our primary office SIP calls to the secondary office SIP trunk . vice versa between offices... ( We have 4 offices but only 2 have SIP trunks)

          Scenario 2 : Our secondary office is non-functional ( must have been a very large Earthquake to knock out both offices) : We send all the main incoming lines of our primary office to GSM mobiles numbers which we keep permamantly on charge. ( Of course we have to pay the SIM cards/subscription but it removes the "cut cable" scenario. We can change to the GSM numbers to other landlines/GSM where necessary). All of this we can configure with a simple web interface from anywhere.

          We no longer bother with PSTN/ADSL backups of anything considering that our main trunks are Fibre anyway, PSTN/ADSL wouldn't ba able to successfully replace our current setup.

          SIP definately has it's advantages. Also forgot to mention that we have already used our DRP scenarios on 3 seperate occasions and was happy to experience that it worked on the each occasions. It's also bloody handy when you do a PBX upgrade.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Why?

            Scenario 2 : Our secondary office is non-functional ( must have been a very large Earthquake to knock out both offices)

            Scenario 3: Coms connections over a large area are out or functioning at vastly reduced capacity. Several of your key personel will be without any phone contact for a few days. None of those who know how to access the "simple web interface from anywhere" can actually get to it due to road closures (perhaps even whole towns cut off for months), widespread coms and power disruptions, and what is left of the phone networks being swamped firstly by panicked people trying to reach loved ones then post-disaster people spreading their tales of survival and woe to everyone who will listen (and many who quietly put the phone down/fake a "disconnect").

            The biggest problem with disaster planning is that disasters don't know how to read our plans and even if they could, they're such inconsiderate bastards that they'd completely ignore them anyway. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy...

            [Here, after the Kaikoura quake, for many months we had roads partly or completely closed due to their proximity to 'at-risk' buildings. Many buildings around Wellington were considered perfectly safe but also completely closed due to neighbouring buildings - they didn't want a risk of a nearby collapse as people were entering/exiting. Many business people were not allowed to retrieve equipment, files or vehicles (even when it was parked on the street just inside the exclusion zone, and the vehicle was the key component of their business, and they'd need less than a minute to get it out safely). Your "GSM mobiles numbers which we keep permamantly on charge" would be completely out-of-reach in such circumstances unless kept in diverse locations. Kaikoura and much of the surrounding district was completely isolated for some months, the only source of supplies being harvested locally or transported by helicopter - for months]

            Good on you for doing it and I hope it works, and should do in all but the worst events, but if the power to the data is gone, no matter how contactable you are you're not doing much - unless you carry your customer's details around on your phone? :)

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        In case of emergency you can always create a SIP connection whilst your main line is being reparted for example.

        Unless you're with Orange in France, where they use a proprietary wrapper around SIP to stop you doing this.

        SIP has functionality that ISDN, Analogue does not,

        Indeed. For one, it's so much easier for telemarketers to spoof caller ID

        SIP eliminates the need for dedicated copper lines. Everything can go down the same FibreOptic or IP connected line..

        Provided that both ends, and all the intermediate cabinets, have backup power supplies. Otherwise things will go very quiet in a power cut.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why?

          So questionable continuity of services during power outages and easier for telemarketing scum to spoof numbers... all this reads "lose - lose" for the consumers in my book

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      The major benefit is that FTTC is now the standard for everyone. Which means *everyone* gets high speed internet, because POTS is going away.

      So net win.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      One small but important advantage to both parties is the reduction in the amount of copper in the ground that seems to attract the attention of 'Light Fingered Larry' and his mates. Fibre is less attractive but only if Larry and co can read the big labels that are on the cables.(unlikely)

      Less copper to nick then the network should (should and not will) have a higher uptime.

  9. Peter Prof Fox

    Will my traditional telephone still work?

    Apparently not. I don't see any consumer heads-up for all your phones will need to be replaced. Neither is there any upgrade path such as VOIP-ready. Conspiracy of silence or just the usual failures?

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Will my traditional telephone still work?

      all your phones will need to be replaced.

      Not strictly true - CPE exists that a conventional phone can plug into, which handles the analogue-SIP conversion.

      But since those are not in widespread usage (aside from people who have already moved to SIP and have them for that reason), that means replacing all your routers instead of your phones!

      There's also an increasing number of people who don't have/use their landline number anyway. We don't have a phone plugged in at all. All voice calls are via mobile - whether over cellular connection or routed over Wifi-Calling. Don't want or need a "landline" number, SIP or otherwise.

      YMMV, and things like telecare, monitored alarms and other embedded/legacy devices are the obvious tricky cases here. An awful lot of domestic users however have already subconsciously made the switch and just won't notice.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Will my traditional telephone still work?

      Unless they're rotary dial, not true. My house (a cordless and a Touch-Tone Princess) plugs right into my OOMA box and works as on copper.

      And even if they're rotary dial, you can get rotary to tone converters.

      1. sebbb

        Re: Will my traditional telephone still work?

        Do rotary phones still work? I don't have one and never even connected a phone into my line in London, but in Italy all rotary phones ceased operations when they digitalised the exchanges, only DTMF phones since (I think) 2001. And since 2010 with FTTC and 2015 with FTTH there is no option to have analog line at all.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Will my traditional telephone still work?

          Do rotary phones still work? I don't have one and never even connected a phone into my line in London, but in Italy all rotary phones ceased operations when they digitalised the exchanges, only DTMF phones since (I think) 2001. And since 2010 with FTTC and 2015 with FTTH there is no option to have analog line at all.

          They digitised the exchange where I grew up around '82 or '83, yet my parents never gave up their rotary phone. In the late 90s/early 2000s I could still tell a modem to pulse-dial and it'd work happily. No idea if the same would happen today.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "if we can spot all those challenges early on, we can do something about them"

    Discuss them at length at senior management level without reaching a decision with the possibility that those at the sharp end will sort it out in spite of all the roadblocks senior management put in their way.

    Yes, I have worked at BT. Why do you ask?

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Ghost of Christmas Past in the machine...

    I remember working at BBC Leeds in the eighties. One fine day all our music circuit alarms lit up... without warning BT had changed all the existing copper circuits to fibre overnight. This was fine for signal quality, but not quite so fine for all the DC circuit paths we used on the copper to prove the circuit was there...

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Ghost of Christmas Past in the machine...

      BBC Leeds in the eighties

      Wow - you were ahead of the times. When I started in ILR in Cardiff in the mid 1990s, everything was still utterly analogue with a starquad up to our "local" (about 3 miles in a straight line) transmitter and EPS85(?) circuits to sports grounds and our local AM transmitter. The only concession was a NICAM link to the more distant transmitters, analogue from us to the exchange, NICAM from there. I remember turning up for my first OB in 1994 to find a BT engineer in a box under the road, proffering me a simple twisted pair.

      ISDN came a couple of years later, though our lines to the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park (about 500m in a straight line from the studios and right behind the exchange) and Ninian Park (a bit further) remained analogue until Cardiff exchange was rebuilt as part of the Millennium Stadium development.

      With the analogue lines we did simple loop-back. We fed programme into the outgoing leg and a simple jack switch at the other end connected it to the return leg when there were no headphones plugged in. No automated alarms - but we had to remember to check before use with enough time to fault-find. On more than one occasion we'd find the things disconnected because some BT engineer had gone to the local DP to find a "spare pair" for a foreign broadcaster's temporary line, failed to find 50V or 75V on our lines and assumed therefore they were not in use.

      :-/

      M.

  12. Flak

    SIP ATAs, Redcare lines, and legacy equipment

    Thing is that the presentation of ADSL/FTTC at the customer will still be ADSL/VDSL, which will need to be plugged into something that then presents Ethernet ports (e.g. a broadband router), allowing either an in-built or external SIP ATA to present an analogue port to the legacy phone if someone wants to retain that. FTTP will look differently, however. For those who are interested the Openreach FTTP tech spec is here:

    https://www.btplc.com/SINet/sins/pdf/506v1p5.pdf

    Other FTTP providers will have similar specs for their services.

    While an ATA port mimics an analogue telephone line, the ATA typically cannot provide other legacy services, with the device dependent exception of Fax services (T.38).

    Some of the other legacy services such as non-IP BT Redcare may require hardware and service updates and changes from the service provider (and that may mean a move to IP).

    The challenge is in the volume of migrations and making sure that every migration scenario is accounted for to ensure continuity of service.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: SIP ATAs, Redcare lines, and legacy equipment

      While an ATA port mimics an analogue telephone line, the ATA typically cannot provide other legacy services

      What I'm most concerned about is whether it supports Loop Disconnect Dialling. We still have an old 1970s dial telephone which works perfectly with our existing copper and has a fantastic bell...

      M.

      1. Toltec

        Re: SIP ATAs, Redcare lines, and legacy equipment

        Get something like this-

        https://www.rotatone.co.uk/buy-rotatone/

    2. Toltec

      Re: SIP ATAs, Redcare lines, and legacy equipment

      They stopped selling PSTN based Redcare a while ago and are trying to move customers on to IP.

  13. The Real Tony Smith
    Joke

    SIP?

    I thought we were all going to be upgraded to ISDN!

    1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: SIP?

      If BT could continue charging *A Lot* a quarter for ISDN then they would. They are still also advertising it as available... Recent phone conversation* before we got rid of BT ISDN included the promise that they could upgrade us to SIP for the same price... My SIP connections cost a LOT less that £1200 a quarter! Closer to £30 a month for a 8 simultaneous calls.

      *BT Local Businesses, steer well clear.

  14. macjules Silver badge

    So let me try and understand this ..

    SOTAP (Single Order Transition Product) – a copper product that will provide a data path for those without access to fibre.

    Despite the intent to sever all copper-based product by 2025 it might/will be necessary for some to have a copper product installed .. but never mind as we will try and remove this by 2027? I presume that there is in fact a national roll-out plan for FTTP by BT, if so why do they just not simply publish it so that everyone can see when they would either be affected by the works or when they might expect their speeds to increase?

    Choose Open Reach? Because we know how to make you confused.

  15. razorfishsl

    VOIP is GARBAGE........

    for the simple reason that power has to be supplied at the consumer end.....

    and the lines are most likely to go down when there is an emergency... no power....

    or in my case every fucking time the major ISP decides to do maintenance.....

    so to use it you need at least 3 pieces of equipment that needs to be mains powered at the consumer end....

    Whereas phone supplied their own power over the line......

    1. Adam JC

      You do realise that ~80% of UK households have a cordless DECT phone attached to their landline, right?

      Guess how that behaves once the power is cut...? :-)

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        So you slap in a cheap wired phone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Of course, 'coz everyone has a cheap wired phone handy at home in case of a power cut...

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Of course, 'coz everyone has a cheap wired phone handy at home in case of a power cut...

            I do, permanently plugged in to an extension socket in a little-used room. More than once it's been the only one that rang.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            cheapo wired phone

            or their DECT basestation is behind their UPS

            which in my case is now redundant since I had a 34kWh battery installed to take the power from my Solar Panels (except on days like today).

            I can run my house for almost two weeks with a full charge if I don't plug my car in but I do have a 400VA, 12V DC to 230V AC supply that runs stuff like laptop chargers when away from home.

            I do see when in the not too distant future most homes will have a 10kWh or similar battery installed that works with a truly smart meter to charge when GRID leccy is cheap and provide your home with power when it is expensive.

            I'm not selling my power back to the grid until the ££££ that I get is close to what I pay the leccy company for it. At the moment the difference in prices is a sheer WTF! you have to be joking moment.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: cheapo wired phone

              I'm not selling my power back to the grid until the ££££ that I get is close to what I pay the leccy company for it. At the moment the difference in prices is a sheer WTF! you have to be joking moment.

              1) You do realise that by 'punishing' them by withholding your pitiful amount of power, you're actually only punishing yourself? They'd not really notice anything you add y'know.

              2) Basic economics. The RetailCo charges you a certain amount per KwH, let's say 25cents/unit. Do you actually believe that they buy that power for 24c/unit and out of the remaining 1c/unit cover their fees to LinesCo, overheads and profit? Or is it more likely they buy the power from GeneratorCo at a price closer to the pittance they offer you, and you're really actually being treated much the same as BigGenCo?

              (Obvs based on NZ's funky system - dunno what the rest of the world does but I assume RetailCo, TransmissionCo and GenCo are usually the sameCo)

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: cheapo wired phone

              "except on days like today"

              Does anyone know of micro-hydroelectic generators to fit onto downpipes?

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "everyone has a cheap wired phone handy at home in case of a power cut..."

            Of course. It was the one that was there before we get the DECT. Not the DECT we have now, the long deceased one before that. It still works. In fact it rings before the DECT.

          4. Da Weezil

            I keep a cheap hard wired one just for "quiet line " checks as step in diagnosing *dsl faults.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Whereas phone supplied their own power over the line......

      "Whereas phone supplied their own power over the line......"

      Are you sure about that ? I always believed that the power was supplied by your Telco.....and you wouldn't want to be holding the wires when it rings. So of your Telco is doing maintenance, no telephone for you....just like your ISP.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      It's one* of the reasons I still like a landline. I might be sat in a power cut, but I don't need to worry about battery life, I can still make and receive calls.

      *Plenty of others.

    4. Trollslayer Silver badge

      A household is likely to have more than one mobile phone and very likely to have at least one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Which is of no use when the base stations have lost power.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Or there's just no signal.

      2. Mark Ruit

        Or the house could be like ours: in the middle of a triangle of rather distant (and topographically-shaded) base stations, such that the signal is poor even outside. Then there is lots of lovely Aluminium foil in the wall insulation with the overall result that there are rooms which never get a signal, while all the others are no better than 'iffy'.

        We've tried most of the providers and they are all much-of-a-muchness.

        Mobile is simply not a back-up option for us.

        That is why we have a conventional wired phone permanently plugged in.

  16. ColonelClaw

    "But certainly 2025 is the end date."

    Not for one second can I see this statement come back to haunt him.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the year 2525 if man is still alive......

    Whoops, wrong year, sorry. I was only out by a Buck Rogers sleep.

    1. 1752
      Gimp

      Biddy biddy

      Did look it up on the wiki by cos in the 25 century, so it appears it was 2491*

      *No down vote by me, but maybe it was for this reason?

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Where I currently have my landline positioned is no where near any power sockets, so are Openreach going to pay to have an power socket fitted next to the phone line so that I can use VOIP? Or more likely say I have to pay for an electrician to fit a socket at my own cost, for no extra advantage to me.

    I doubt things like that have even been considered, think of the thousands of older people who don't have broadband and still use landlines to make calls who maybe in the same situation.

    Comparing it the the analogy TV switch off is not the same, as that didn't involve having to visit every premises in the UK within 5 years.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Comparing it the the analogy TV switch off is not the same, as that didn't involve having to visit every premises in the UK within 5 years.

      Nor does this. It's pretty much the same process. The TV switch over required people to buy and configure a set top box. This switch over requires them to install and configure a VoIP adaptor. The only people who will need a home visit are the relatively small number of people who can't connect a small plastic box to their LAN and unplug their existing telephone from the master socket and plug it into the small plastic box.

      Granted people who don't currently have broadband will need to get it installed but I assume there's some kind of plan for that. Possibly a small router/VoIP adaptor that can be plugged into the master socket. Still doesn't require a home visit for most people.

      The only area of complexity is probably configuration. Currently I believe most VoIP systems are manual but hopefully the industry can spec up an autoconfiguration framework. Shouldn't be all that difficult to piggyback something of DHCP, DNS. Or maybe they can do something with PPP.

  19. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Reliability issues

    Anyone who needs reliable communications when things go TITSUP may like to read https://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/living-without-electricity, particularly pages 8 onwards. Some of the worrying items were:

    "Mobile phone systems did not hold up" and "Most domestic internet connections were also lost." etc.

    Plain old copper POTS was all that kept working (as long as you didn't have only a DECT phone).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reliability issues

      "Anyone who needs reliable communications when things go TITSUP may like to read https://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/living-without-electricity, particularly pages 8 onwards."

      Many thanks. That document should be more widely known. Maybe after the National Grid events of August 9th trhis year, and the subsequent chaos even after grid power came back on, a few more people will read that document, and act accordingly.

  20. Bruce Ordway

    Fax... old fashioned already?

    2025....I'm wondering if a lot of sites might be already be retired/converted before then?

    Anyway, this story has reminded me of times I spent at one of my previous employers.

    Where once myself and two other employees were sent to a nearby company in the late 80's just to learn about this new device called a fax machine.

    After we returned and reported our findings, one of these machines was acquired.

    (This was just one of several fact finding adventures I went on.. before the internet took off of course).

    Within a year separate fax units were deployed to the sales, purchasing and engineering departments.

    When the company switched to VoIP gear I remember some minor fiddling was needed before faxing resumed (around 2008)?

    At the same company, I ended up maintaining the old PBX too.

    A Lucent Legend may seem primitive now but at one time I thought they were really "cool" and they were used by many companies.

    I'm having an attack of have fond memories right now.

    I was exposed to a lot of tech during the 80's and 90's like CAD, CNC's, Stereolithography, PLC's, assembly robots, etc...

    Their attraction was irresistible for me.

    Maybe I'm just too old now but I'm just not as enthusiastic about some of the newer trends.

    I've especially lukewarm on smartphones, tablets and IoT.

  21. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Stop

    Emergency calls

    Looking at the spec for the analogue phone and network adapter, it shows a typical power consumption of 7.5 watts and the battery backup unit has 4 2000mAh 1.2v batteries. If the batteries are in perfect condition and fully charged they would only provide operation for a little over 1 hour. This is grossly insufficient. If the mains power fails at night while people are sleeping then when they wake up they will have no phone to summon help.

    The battery backup unit needs to provide a minimum of 12 hours runtime - preferably 24 hours.

    (For comparison the old analogue phones connected to the PSTN are backed up by the batteries at the exchange - usually good for over a day without mains power (huge batteries and/or a backup generator at the exchange).)

    The interface unit will also consume about £10 worth of electricity per year which is an additional cost for the consumer.

  22. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    OK I'm biting..

    I'm in central France at the mo. T'internet via an Orange Livebox(play). All my 'phone' is VOIP and works fine. Phone on line is old style POTS hung off the 'adapter' port on the box. Downside here are thunderstorms in Oct/Nov which cut leccy and also the mobile network. I have found Orange wired network functions *as long as you have a UPS for your Orange box*.

    Such is leccy in rural France in stormy times, a UPS is de rigeur( try 5 -6 fails in 30 secs at a time)

    Actually, does anyone else keep their home switches and similar on a UPS like me?

    I look to everyone in UK having a UPS for their "landline phone" interface...

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: OK I'm biting..

      Very few UPS systems can handle prolonged outages (multiple hours). The battery backup in the analogue phone adapter can handle up to 1 hour, however the problem is what happens if there is a power cut that happens at night when people are asleep. In the morning there would be no electricity and no way to call for help. With the analogue PSTN system phones would work for over a day in the absence of mains electricity (and much longer if the exchange has a backup generator).

    2. reprobate

      Re: OK I'm biting..

      Once I did try keeping all of that gear on a UPS, because the power supply here was rather flaky at the time. But I made the mistake of buying a "eco smart" device, that decided all by itself if the power consumption was below some arbitrary threshold that could not be adjusted after the device left the factory then it should switch itself off! Of course you will realise by now that the total demand of modem/router, POE box and SIP phones was insufficient to keep the UPS turned on! Where did I leave that drawing board?

  23. Trollslayer Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Broadband speed

    If we all have FTTP what does this do to broadband speeds for the whole country?

    I am thinking beyond the exchanges, there's only so much backbone capacity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Broadband speed

      Even FTTC is a significant bandwidth increase over ADSL. My upgrade to FTTC from ADSL2+ took me from 10/1mbps to 70/20mbps. Uploading videos to YouTube takes no time at all now.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Broadband speed

      I am thinking beyond the exchanges, there's only so much backbone capacity.

      There's ample backbone capacity and adding more is easy. There's a ton of unlit fibre just lying around because of the questionable way business rates are levied on fibre. Openreach has so much of it that they have recently launched a product so that other CPs can use their spare fibre.

      And even if more fibre actually needs to be installed it's not particularly difficult and is just a normal part of operating a national fibre network.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FTTP will need the fibre to be brought into the house. The last time BT had to replace the copper they filled in the final junction box in the pavement and buried the cable all the way from a previous larger manhole. That took them the best part of a day. They will have fun if they want to use the Virgin Media trunking that goes past the house underneath the pavement. The water company smashed that plastic pipe to pieces when fitting the mandatory water meter. Or was it the electricity company when repairing the cable to a neighbour which illogically went diagonally underneath my concrete drive.

    Cue Flanders and Swan

  25. Kiwi Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Disaster mitigation?

    I've been through the odd earthquake and the odd other-incident resulting in the loss of power, sometimes for considerable time periods. These inlcude the obvious earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, and cars (or trees etc) taking out power poles (sometimes knocking out whole suburbs).

    At these times mobile networks have a tendency to get swamped, but the POTS network tends to remain functional. This allows those who have landlines and a need to use them to get in touch with emergency services or aid organisations (to request or offer). It means medical staff can be contactable as can people necessary to repair infrastructure and so on.

    When we switch wholesale to fibre/VOIP, there is a requirement for equipment in-house to receive mains-power to function instead of the old 50-75v (I cannot recall which) over the twisted copper.

    What plans are being taken (there, here or anywhere) to make sure people can get help in the event of a disaster?

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Disaster mitigation?

      None !!!

      You do not think that vulnerable people come anywhere on the list of priorities for the people drawing up these plans do you ?

      If some 80 year olds die at home because they cannot summon help, this is just regarded as a benefit - fewer people claiming pensions and needing NHS services,

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Disaster mitigation?

        None !!!

        You do not think that vulnerable people come anywhere on the list of priorities for the people drawing up these plans do you ?

        You're probably right but....

        I wonder if they've considered some of those "very important people" they want to reach might also be amongst the "can't get through because congested/dead cell towers"?

        (I obviously mean the likes of electrical engineers, roading contractors, coms techs, medical staff and so on - if politicians and councillors cannot be reached, so much the better! (and if some of them wind up listed amongst the dead, well, the losses will be lessened...(we really need that 'cynical bastard' icon!))

  26. Dwarf Silver badge

    Network impact

    So, a whole pile of new SIP adapters will be necessary (one per house) and each one will need a public IP address, so interesting to see how this is delivered to the premises, particularly given that IPv4 is exhausted.

    So,,, either it’s a device on your LAN which means interesting times from a security perspective with a minimal functionality / minimal security device and lots of ports opened up for SIP to work, plus a whole bunch of compatibility and latency issues with oversubscribed ISP’s

    Or.. it’s another network overlay that is telco maintained and presumably native IPv6, but how would they hook this into existing ADSL routers that take over the whole phone line.

    I guess it has to be telco side, otherwise they couldn’t connect to other hard wired phone sockets around the premises - alarms and the like.

    Would be interested to see what they are actually planning to drop in

    1. sebbb

      Re: Network impact

      You're clearly overthinking here... In other EU countries voice goes over a separate VLAN which carries private addressing to the SIP servers inside the ISP net, no need for anything you said. I had VoIP since 2010 on ADSL in Italy, if the ISP knows how to do networking (erm... yeah ok, major problem here) there is no issue at all. Although the wiring part is a very frustrating thing here in the UK, where in EU countries you have decent conduits with telephone wiring inside the walls, not a stapled line that gets removed every time you renew your house. So you have sockets in more rooms, you disconnect that internal wiring from the outside line and you connect the modem analog out there. All fine, you can keep going with analog phone inside your house.

    2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: new SIP adapters will be necessary (one per house)

      I wouldn't have thought so. ISPs have already started supplying routers with what appear to be ATA sockets on the back.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: new SIP adapters will be necessary (one per house)

        "I wouldn't have thought so. ISPs have already started supplying routers with what appear to be ATA sockets on the back."

        In the case of a customer with a BT landline phone and other ISP broadband - someone has to merge the two services onto the single house fibre connection.

        That suggests it will be your ISP's responsibility to provide their configured modem/router - so it can also connect the hard-wired house phone to a fibre VLAN for your phone supplier's traffic.

        Even if BT supply a separate box for hard-wired phones to LAN - the ISP router has to provide a VLAN that the user cannot reconfigure.

        Alternatively BT's box connects to the physical fibre - and provides a LAN port for a VLAN for the ISP traffic. The ISP would still have to provide a router configured for their use that can connect to a LAN rather than a physical fibre.

        In any case it looks like any copper connect modem/routers will have to be replaced by the ISP. If not subsidised then it could be an uneconomic disaster for small ISPs.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Network impact

      "Would be interested to see what they are actually planning to drop in"

      Or just drop.

  27. Colin Bull 1
    Coffee/keyboard

    VOIP services

    As I hope to be moving in a few weeks, any recommendations for VOIP providers that I can port my existing landline numer to?

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: VOIP services

      I haven't ported a number in to Sipgate but I find them to be a reliable SIP provider.

  28. steelpillow Silver badge
    WTF?

    Power cuts

    One of the truly great things about POTS is the self-powering via its built-in DC supply. In a power cut the vulnerable can still dial 999 or press the red button and plead they have just tripped over in the dark or their kidney machine is shut down or whatever. Correct me if I'm wrong but AFAIK all standard light modems require a local power supply - the one that has just failed. Has this thing been thought through?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power cuts

      The last time we had a power cut - the handset in the master socket started ringing. It was the electricity supplier's recorded message that they knew about the loss and were investigating. Neighbours had the same message on their mobiles.

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Power cuts

      Correct me if I'm wrong but AFAIK all standard light modems require a local power supply - the one that has just failed.

      There must be scope to reasonably easily fit a backup battery system to the things, but that assumes they'll also have suitable backups at the other end as well. An event that knocks the power out can often knock out ISPs - TTBOMK few have more than a few hours of backup capacity and due to the nature of VOIP I assume that it goes through the ISP rather than just as far as the local exchange (would be nice if the exchange handles that so in the event of a major ISP screwup voice at least still works)

      But.. The backup system still has to power the modem for long enough to get help. Given how badly lines get congested in disasters - I'd consider 24hours an absolute minimum for battery time,

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How will the sharing of access for phone and internet work if you get them from different suppliers?

    On copper the BT phone is split from the ISP broadband by the microfilter in the master socket. How will two different suppliers' equipment in the house share the access to the broadband? Will the broadband act like two separated VLANs?

  30. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Fax

    I reluctantly gave up on fax a while back ( when I changed my printer). I couldn't justify the small extra cost for a different model that included it.

    But that being said, for an everyday business type letter it was still far superior to email. Simply because email messages are too easy to filter, ignore, relay or delete - at least it is better to fax until they start to use jiggery pokery to save them instead of printing them,so it just becomes like an inefficient email.

    But a physical bit of paper on someone's desk can work wonders that the usual "Don't contact us" web page with a deliberately hidden email form or address doesn't.

    And yes I know the same bastards that conceal contact details for email, by putting customers into contact us hell* also concealed fax numbers.

    *We all know it but it's worth repeating.

    There is no immediate contact address, but there is a link that says "help" that goes to a Help page that has a further link somewhere that says "Contact us" that goes to a page of FAQs (most of which have never been frequently asked) which eventually has a link that says "Not answered your question - click here". Which goes to the Help page.......

  31. BillPStudios
    Unhappy

    So sorry for my friends in the UK

    I love how everyone thinks "fiber" is so much better. It may be better for the carrier but it's a downgrade for consumers. I was one of the first in my area to have FiOS Internet services installed in my home. I was surprised when I started to see the Verizon techs making changes to my phone service. They told me they installed a backup battery for my phone system. If I lost power it would provide me with an hour of phone service. My copper lines didn't need any kind of backup power. If I lost power it didn't affect my phone service. Now, Version charges customers a $10 a month fee if they want the battery backup. Since it had been a long day they convinced me to try it and if I didn't like it they'd come to switch me back to copper.

    Well, the fiber wasn't great for my phone system. It took an effort to be switched back. My fax machine no longer worked so they sent me a list of compatible machines. Naturally, I'd have to purchase them.

    What we really have lost is our consistent, crystal clear, full-duplex conversations. Now our home phones will be as garbled as our cell phones. I'm sure the younger generations have already forgotten how you could hear every inflection in a voice when you used the phone. I have no doubt new technology has downgraded our phone service. Sorry to hear the decision-makers in the U.K. have made this decision.

    Bill Pytlovany

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