Openreach adds 46 UK exchanges to copper phone to fiber switch – Tranche 8

Openreach (BT) also today released the Tranche 8 lot of 46 UK exchange zones where they plan to move away from analogue copper-based telephone services (PSTN/WLR etc) and switch to a new all-IP network, which will occur once more than 75% of premises in an area can obtain their “ultra-fast broadband” (FTTP and at 300Mbps+).

Currently, there are two different, albeit closely related, steps to move away from the old copper line infrastructure. The first begins with the gradual migration from traditional voice services (PSTN) to all-IP technologies, which should be completed by December 2025 and occurs on the copper line (eg SOGEA) (i.e. both copper and full fiber ISPs are introducing VoIP-style digital voice solutions for customers).

REMARK: Openreach’s full fiber currently covers 7 million premises in the UK (build rate around 50,000 per week) and aims to reach 25 million by December 2026 (here).

The second stage involves the continuous deployment of faster systems Fiber to sites (FTTP) broadband infrastructure (see today’s other big news) – using light signals via fiber optics, instead of slower electrical signals via copper. It is only when this second stage is largely completed in a trading zone that one can really start to abandon copper in favor of fiber, which is a longer process because it takes a few years to user migration.

The process of going completely from copper to “fiber” begins as soon as 75% of the premises of a central office are capable of receiving ultra-fast connectivity. Note that hybrid fiber coverage also counts for this, but its impact will be low (deployment stopped at 2.83 million premises) and is only relevant where speeds of 300Mbps+ are achievable.

Between the full deployment of fiber and the phasing out of copper lines, this process will take several years in each area, and the pace will vary from location to location (i.e. some areas will have better fiber coverage than others).

The process of migrating away from copper usually begins with a “no retreat” (i.e. no fallback to copper) for premises connected to FTTP, which is followed by a “stop-sale» copper services to new customers (12 months notice is given before it starts and that’s what today’s list represents).

After the above comes the finale”Withdrawalphase. Currently, Openreach is already preparing to completely shut down and retire old analog products in two test areas – Salisbury and Mildenhall – and they are now notifying ISPs that these products will be retired in the spring of 2023.

The following 46 exchange slots (slice 8)

The 46 exchanges announced today – covering 380,000 premises – brings the total number of swap upgrades that have already been notified under the above process (including trial swaps) to around 600 – covering 5 million premises in total. The “stop sellingThe policy is now active in 250 of these fiber exchanges, covering c. 2.7 million premises.

REMARK: Openreach has about 5,600 exchanges, but hybrid fiber (FTTC, and full fiber (FTTP) services are provided through different exchanges (about 1,000 out of this total of 5,600) – so up to 4,600 will eventually close (after 2030) – see here, here and here.

The operator also added a Stop Selling Page on their website, making it easy to see all of these changes. Please remember that the following list is tentative, so changes and delays occasionally occur.

46 new Stop Sell trades in slice 8 (trade code)

Bagshot – THBA
Bourne – EMBOURN
Burnt Wood – CMBNW
Burton – LCBTN
Chorley – LCCHO
Crayford – LSCRAY
Cross Keys – SWZKS
Dalton-In-Furness – LCDTF
Dudley Hill – MYDUD
Galgate – LCGAL
Gerard Cross – THGX
Hatfield Woodhouse – SLHTW
Bank Hest – LCHET
Huxley – WNHUX
Irlam – MRIRL
Llanarmon-Yn-Ial – WNLYI
Llantrisant – SWLLO
Madingley – EAMAD
Manor Park – LVMPK
Newbridge – SWNBI
Northwich – MRNOR
Paignton – WWPAIG
Penicuik – ESPCK
Pickering – MYPIC
Radyr – SWRRY
Read Earley – THEAR
Rhos On Sea – WNROS
Rosehearty – NSRHT
Ruddington – EMRDDIN
Selby – MYSEL
Skipton – MYSKP
Snaith – MYSNH
Tilston – WNTIL
Weaverham – MRWEA
Wednesday – CMWED
Wentworth – THWTH
Whissendine – EMWHISS
Willowcroft – EMWILLO
Wilstead – SMWLS