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WLR and PSTN switch-off, hosted voip, sip, fttp, teams direct routing

Live blog – everything you need to know about Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off

by

Ben Knights
May 22, 2024

Openreach implemented its national stop-sell of Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) on 5 September 2023.

This blog shares everything you need to know about Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off including key dates, high-margin digital replacements to offer your customers, and how to gain an edge over the competition.

‚≠ź This is a live blog, updated as Openreach announces new information. Save it to your favourites.

ūüö© We’ll highlight updates with a red flag so you can easily spot what’s new.


ūüö© IMPORTANT UPDATE – 22.05.24

BT Group have announced a change in the date for WLR withdrawal to 31.01.27 Р13 months later than originally planned. 

The change is linked to two competing demands.

  1. the requirement to protect vulnerable customers where WLR supports telecare and health-related alarm services
  2. the new date in January 2027 ties in with the Openreach aim to cover 25 million premises by December 2026.

 

By delaying the date, more of the UK will have FTTP available via Openreach (and others), and it also gives more time to make sure vulnerable end users are protected.

 

However, this update comes with a major caveat that is important to understand.

 

Openreach announced that they will still terminate existing WLR contracts in December 2025 (as per the previous plan). After this date, any remaining WLR assets will be subject to new terms that include a three-month termination notice period. 

 

What does this mean for UK business customers?

This news should not change any plans to move off WLR. If you still use WLR for voice via ISDN or PSTN, SIP and hosted voice phone systems offer real flexibility. If you still use ADSL or FTTC for broadband access, check whether you can move onto the newer post-WLR options including SoGEA or FTTP. 

Combined, these new IP voice services and newer and often faster internet access options, really offer a transition to digitally transform the way communication is delivered, and will enable more agile working, greater efficiency, and improved customer service.

1. what’s Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off?

The background

The UK is upgrading to digital.

Openreach is winding down the copper-based network that’s served the UK for over a century.

This is partly driven by the fact that the current infrastructure is running on equipment that’s reaching end of life – parts and skills are becoming scarce.

Openreach’s intention is to force a country-wide digital upgrade. That’s great news for pretty much everyone, because digital is better!

For any telecoms reseller that provides services that sit on Openreach’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), churn is guaranteed.

What products are affected by Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off?

By the end of December 2025 traditional telephony will no longer exist.

This includes:

      • analogue lines – PSTN

        • digital lines – ISDN2 and ISDN30

          • any connectivity that relies on the old copper network – mostly made up of ADSL and FTTC broadband

        Openreach's WLR switch-off, hosted voip, sip, fttp, teamd direct routing

        Key dates for Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off

        On 5 September 2023 – Openreach stopped accepting new WLR line orders*

        This includes adding a new ADSL or FTTC broadband service to an existing analogue line, as well as like-for-like transfers. Existing WLR-based services will continue to function.

        * Openreach has rules which permit some WLR orders in niche instances.

        In areas where neither FTTP nor SOGEA is available, representing approximately 5% of the UK, the option to choose ADSL via a WLR PSTN line will remain accessible until 28th March 2024.

        eve social post

        This gives Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) more time to consume the newly offered SoTAP / SoADSL option from Openreach, which bundles a copper pair with an ADSL signal, in the same way that SoGEA bundles a copper pair with FTTC as the broadband technology.

        9 October 2023 – Salisbury and Mildenhall exchanges were withdrawn

        Salisbury and Mildenhall are Openreach’s test exchanges, where WLR was withdrawn on 9th October 2023.

        December 2025 – Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off

        At the end of December 2025, Openreach will switch off the WLR network.

        All services need to be migrated off WLR before this date, or customers will lose service.

        FTTP priority exchanges

        ūüö© Updated – 18 January 2024

        Openreach has now notified a further tranche of 46 exchanges as ‚Äúfibre priority‚ÄĚ bringing the total to over 920 exchanges across the UK, where when the specific date has passed, only FTTP will be available to order at these millions of premises.

        Have you checked if your customers can get FTTP? The speeds offered will remove speed issues and allow on-premises solutions to be moved into the cloud.

        Alt-nets

        We must add that a wide range of other fibre networks are being built in addition to the Openreach project, taking the UK’s FTTP coverage to over 13 million premises.

        These tend to be known collectively as ‘alt-nets’. Some are very regional, with the largest challenger brand being CityFibre, which has plans to pass 8 million premises by 2025.

        Some alt-nets have a pure vertical sales model to the end customer. Others wholesale their networks so MSPs and IT resellers can have a range of networks and options in their kit bag.

        2. the opportunity for MSPs and IT resellers

        All telecommunications must move to all IP-based services before 2026.

        All UK businesses, charities, local authorities and health providers need to review their communication links and voice services.

        This creates a huge opportunity for MSPs and IT resellers to sell or upsell comms solutions. This ties in perfectly with the IT and cloud solutions you offer and support today.

        https://youtu.be/yDnIIysZKqQ
        eve Networks Managing Director talks to Louise Abbey about the opportunity, and how we’re treating this as a ‘switch-on’, rather than a ‘switch-off.’

        Digital solutions to migrate your customers to all IP

        Voice services will need to move off ISDN and PSTN services to hosted VoIP.

            • a pure cloud-hosted VoIP service where the service is just accessed on-site via a physical IP phone

            • an app running on a mobile, tablet or desktop with all the services delivered via the cloud

            • via¬†SIP trunks if an on-site phone system / PBX remains the best customer solution. This can often be the case for hotels and schools, or anywhere there are lots of extensions to the number of simultaneous external calls happening.

          Broadband connectivity needs to be decoupled from WLR lines and the 3 key services will be:

              • FTTP, if available to the site

              • SoGEA which is an FTTC variant but where the copper access service is bought as one combined product and has over 95% UK coverage

              • Fibre Leased Lines, which is a dedicated internet connection, where the end-user needs guaranteed bandwidth and a fix time service level agreement and is available nationwide¬†

            A further broadband option is planned by Openreach for the sites that have neither SoGEA or FTTP available. SoTAP will support current ADSL speeds but with the copper integral as part of the service. SoTAP is currently in test, so these sites must be addressed later in the migration project off WLR.

            eve Networks portal - eve Voice, the hosted VoIP replacement for the WLR and PSTN switchoff

            3. what can eve Networks offer?

            We’re different from many other aggregators or suppliers.

            We run our own voice and data networks from the customers’ on-site hardware, through the connectivity, to the servers running the services. We have the voice and transit network interconnects to the outside world in key UK data centres.

            This means we have end-to-end control of each customer’s communications traffic.

            We then provide slick portals for you to place orders, which are automated for speed and accuracy.

            We include feature-rich support portals, so you have control and agility when responding to customer queries, and then teams of engineers with decades of experience to support more complex questions. 

            eve Networks portal - eve Voice, the hosted VoIP replacement for the WLR and PSTN switchoff

            The technology

            Our end-to-end solutions, easy-to-use eve portal and honest billing all work together to provide customers with a seamless and intuitive way to adopt and manage their digital communications.

            Here’s what our technology looks like:

                • in-house hosted VoIP platform – eve Voice

                • we’re an ISP with our own IPv4 and IPv6 address ranges allocated

                • interconnect with global transit providers

                • in-house SBCs for voice and security

                • integration with Microsoft Teams

                • in-house order portals and support tools

                • in-house billing platform to help you speed up invoicing and collection

              Deciding to build your own in-house solutions isn’t a decision you make overnight. It takes a lot of investment. But sometimes, it is completely worth it. Read all about why we’ve taken such a clear approach in this blog – building an in-house solution.

              The support

              Technology and expertise is our big differentiator. But we know that communication is more than just ones and zeros.

              Here’s the kind of support you can expect day to day:

                  • guidance on each opportunity while you learn the intricacies of comms.

                  • where the requirement is more complex, we’ll help you check your customers’ telecoms to reveal the products available, and the likely speeds for the site.

                  • access range holder number checks to ease the porting of numbers onto IP voice.

                  • access pre-sales support to define the right licence configuration or capacity, and have ranges of the best handsets for each customer or site requirement.¬†

                Support is adaptable. We can help you understand the UK telecoms market and its history, you can attend marketing workshops and access pre-written content, get help to be set up as a telecoms reseller, or gain insights into the Ofcom regulatory environment and billing support.

                3 months of free eve Voice licences

                Increase recurring revenue by talking to your customers about eve Voice, our cloud phone system.

                We’re offering new partners 3 months of free licensing to give you the best possible start. Find out more about eve Voice and book a 20-minute demo to claim your free licences.

                4. other services affected by WLR

                When you speak to customers about Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off they may ask questions about other services they plug or connect into mainly analogue lines.

                These are things like alarms, health pendants, payment terminals, and lines in lifts.

                Other more obscure items may be lines used for controlling traffic lights or monitoring environmental aspects, like reservoir levels in the water industry.

                Openreach has a helpful brochure on the All IP project, which includes detail on these areas.

                5. next steps

                Our technology may be the invisible hero to our customers, but our team’s technical capabilities and desire to stay in the know is what keeps us cutting-edge and competitive. If you’re interested in finding out more about our eve Voice and eve Connect technology, let’s talk.

                Get in touch to talk about digital replacement solutions like hosted VoIP, SIP, FTTP, Teams Direct Routing or Fibre Leased Lines.

                Get help to plan for Openreach’s WLR and PSTN switch-off.

                Learn how to make great margins on communications.

                6. faqs

                What does ‘All IP’ mean?¬†

                Openreach’s All IP Programme refers to the telephony network in the UK being changed so that all services work over the Internet (IP or Internet Protocol).

                Will the general public be informed about Openreach’s All IP programme?

                There are around 650 Communication Providers operating in the UK.

                Openreach has stated that it’s the Communication Providers’ responsibility to communicate with their customers about the migration to All IP. It’s presumed that they will give a responsible notice period.

                The gov.uk website has recently been updated with a dedicated page to cover the digital switchover – UK transition from analogue to digital landlines

                Will WLR be withdrawn in FTTP Priority Exchanges before December 2025?

                WLR services will not be withdrawn until December 2025. Note that this doesn’t apply to the test exchange in Salisbury.

                Will the WLR withdrawal date be extended?

                Openreach has stated that there are no plans to extend the December 2025 deadline.

                 In December 2025, will all existing services on PSTN be ceased, or will they be migrated to a service like SOGEA?  

                All WLR lines have to be migrated to an alternative product such as SOGEA, by December 2025. Any WLR lines which have not migrated by this deadline will ultimately be ceased.

                Will SOGEA eventually be replaced by FTTP? 

                There are currently no plans for SOGEA to be replaced.

                Is there a specific date in December 2025 when WLR will be withdrawn in the UK?

                Openreach has said an exact date will be confirmed closer to the time.

                If you have a question, email hello@evenetworks.com and we’ll do our best to find the answer for you.

                7. telecoms glossary

                ADSL – Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line or basic broadband of up to 24Mbps

                DIA – Dedicated Internet Access where the connection is solely for one customer’s use end to end of up to 10Gbps. Otherwise known as Leased Lines or Fibre Leased Lines.

                FTTC РFibre to the Cabinet or part fibre broadband of up to 80Mbps 

                FTTP – Fibre to the Premises is a full-fibre broadband service of up to 1000Mbps (or 1Gbps) but has many speed options to suit the customer’s requirement and budget

                IP РInternet Protocol 

                ISDN – Integration Services Digital Network and comes in a variant with 2 channels called ISDN2 and one with between 8 and 30 channels called ISDN30

                Mbps – Megabits per Second or the speed a telecoms connection runs at

                MSP – Managed Service Provider or any wider IT business who eve Networks can support to access the telecoms market

                Ofcom Рthe UK’s regulator of communication services

                PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network

                RID – Reseller Identification code so orders can be tracked by each individual comms reseller

                SBC – Session Border Controller which acts as a voice firewall to secure and optimise IP voice traffic

                SIP – Session Initiation Protocol is a signalling protocol for initiating, maintaining and terminating voice, video and messaging communication sessions

                SoGEA – Single Order Generic Ethernet Access or an FTTC type connection including the copper line so is again up to 80Mbps

                SoTAP – Single Order Transitional Access Product which will be linked to ADSL broadband equipment creating SoADSL for the small subset of sites not able to get SoGEA or FTTP

                Hosted VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol which is an overarching term for SIP and hosted IP Voice.

                WLR – Wholesale Line Rental which is a portfolio of telecoms services offered by Openreach to UK providers for resale

                Useful links

                Openreach ‚Äď Upgrading the UK to Digital Phone Lines


                 

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