back to article Broadband providers can now flog Openreach's new IP voice network in bid to ditch UK's copper phone lines by 2025

BT's Openreach today launched an IP-based network that aims to ultimately replace the UK's public switched telephone network (PSTN), which carries analogue voice communications. The service, SOGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access), will allow retailers to offer standalone broadband products without necessarily bundling a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without that reserved audio frequency, will there be any resulting speed up?

    1. David M

      Unlikely - the bandwidth reserved for analogue telephony is less than 1% of the total used by VDSL2.

    2. hazzamon

      The audio component only uses ~3 Khz of bandwidth on a copper line. VDSL uses tens of megahertz of bandwidth. For the tiny fraction you'd increase speed, you'd have to a) change the VDSL spec, and b) change an awful lot of hardware.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Facepalm

        a) It's already in the spec - they have profiles for different bin availability.

        b) The hardware already supports it.

        1. hazzamon

          Table B.1, Annex B, ITU-T Rec. G.993.2, page 316, defines a minimum frequency of 25 kHz for the US0 channel of VDSL2.

    3. Jon 37

      The best you can do on the audio part of the line is ~50kbit/s. (The best modems were "56K", but they almost never actually got to 56kbit/s).

      A 50kbit/s improvement is going to make no noticeable difference on a 40Mbit VDSL (FTTC) line, or even on a 3Mbit ADSL line. It's not worth the huge expense of changing things to get it. Better to put that money into more FTTP or even FTTC rollout.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        A 50kbit/s improvement is going to make no noticeable difference on a 40Mbit VDSL (FTTC) line, or even on a 3Mbit ADSL line. It's not worth the huge expense of changing things to get it. Better to put that money into more FTTP or even FTTC rollout.

        It's a bit more complex. So G.993.2 lives between 28khz and 30Mhz. POTS lies beneath and gets notched out with the xDSL splitters that vintage phones can be plugged into. Attenuation generally affects the higher frequency & leads to the good'ol 'up to xMbps' that confuses customers and Ofcom.

        And then there's the different bands/profiles used in VDSL2, so 8x uses 8Mhz(ish) bandwidth for 50/16Mbps offers, or 30a uses 30Mhz for 200/100Mbps. The different profiles also have different max power levels.

        Then there's the risk of intefering with voice or alarm/alert/vintage baseband services, and if those could just.. go away, life would be simpler & networks cheaper to maintain. Same with ditching POTS in general. That's also where power levels per band have an effect, ie interefence within a cable bundle, with other bundles, or turning the cable into an interesting antenna and upsetting Ofcom. Again. Or in the case of some gnomes we had at Racal, just setting fire to the cable. They did manage to get >100Mbps out of it before it started smoking though..

        Then if there's less risk of interference & near/far-end crosstalk etc, G.993.5 vectoring might be possible to boost bandwidth/range further.. Except then there's the challenge of Openreach's services being expected to play nicely with other LLU operators.

    4. Mozzie

      The audio bandwidth might not free up much but what about a much reduced SNR margin due to the audio no longer being a consideration?

  2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    The way that legacy kit has a knack of hanging around, I think 2025 seems like an ambitious target for switching off PSTN. There are bound to be loads of old-school bits of equipment all over the country still dialing in to some central server or another to exchange data

    1. Jon 37

      2025 is utter nonsense. This is going to require a public education campaign equivalent to the TV Digital Switch Over (DSO). For DSO, people had the ability to voluntarily switch for several years, then Digital became standard in all new TVs, then several years after that they did the switchover with a massive amount of publicity and help for the people that hadn't switched yet (primarily older people).

      Bearing in mind that they're only just starting to offer a no-PSTN option, and I'm not aware of any suppliers that offer it yet, they're many years away. They need to make this the standard for almost all new installs before they try to get people to switch.

      Perhaps 2030 might be achievable, with hard work.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        "Get SOGEA Done!"

        Put that slogan on T-Shirts,Tea Towels* and assorted tat and flog it off to the masses. Boris and Gove keep repeating it in Parliament and to friendly media outlets...

        Reports of flocks of flying pigs being spotted over Blighty is denounced as fake news.

        *Vulture Central are bound to buy one

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: "Get SOGEA Done!"

          I'm guessing one of those Brexit numpties downvoted you. Ho hum.

      2. Persona Silver badge

        There is a significant difference. People are receiving bills for their PSTN lines which are far more related to the service they are receiving than the TV licence. Big red writing over the bill saying "This line will be disconnected in 2024" will grab peoples attention far more that the TV Digital Switch Over campaign, just as final demand bills are overlooked less than regular utility bills.

        1. Lazlo Woodbine

          I've not had a phone bill in years, I just get a text off my supplier saying your bill is xxxx and it comes out of my bank on a certain date, if the bill is any different to what I expect to see I can log in and check.

      3. irrelevant

        Fttp

        "They need to make this the standard for almost all new installs before they try to get people to switch."

        Not sure if this is the standard now, but a relative just moved into a new-build flat, just a cheap block, nothing premium, and it had an Openreach FTTP box in a cupboard waiting for him. (and Virgin Media pre-wired in.) I was most jealous; the bit of wet string we have to suffer barely manages 30Mbps VDSL and that's with me able to see the cabinet from the bedroom!

        1. SImon Hobson

          Re: Fttp

          Then your relative was very lucky.

          BTOR don't do that sort of install for free, so the developer must have paid them to do it (and Virgin). A relative of mine was looking at a new build, and the cheapskate <make up your own expletive> had even failed to provide any ducting (on the basis that it would have cost money) with the result that each of the houses had a new "washing line" from the nearest pole and clipped down the side of the house.

          But in general, yes that's how it should be done. New houses, FTTP by default. If that had been the case from a few years ago then by now we'd have enough installs that it would no longer be a novelty justifying a price premium.

          And it must be a couple of decades ago now that BT did a trial in a couple of villages where the pulled out all the coper and made everything run over fibre. At the time they said it offered long term savings through reduced maintenance costs, but it seemed to get shelved in favour of keeping the old wet string going for a bit longer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fttp

            Not true Simon.

            Openreach policy is free FTTP for any development of 20 or more houses, with a sliding scale for developments below that size. It does require the developer to engage Openreach at an early stage so that they can plan accordingly (and the builder can do the in-house installation during construction, so in theory the house is already wired up to the fibre at move in). After all, they're going to have do some major work to bring in copper anyway, so might as well do it right and do it with fibre.

            https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/01/openreach-extend-free-fttp-offer-to-smaller-uk-new-build-sites.html

            The issue comes when developers don't care about this, so they don't engage Openreach properly, leaving them to rush in copper towards the end to meet their universal service obligation (or, worse, they engage some third party that no one's heard of and has none of the ISP choice that Openreach provides)

      4. SImon Hobson

        For DSO, people had the ability to voluntarily switch for several years, then Digital became standard in all new TVs

        Ha, you must have lived in one of the later areas to change. Up here in Winter Hill land (IIRC the first, or at least one of the earliest to change), there were still analogue only sets being sold after we went digital ! I know this because a friend bought a couple because they were "on sale", and I had to add boxes to them to make them work - with all the hassle that having separate TV and STB remotes causes some people.

        Now, if TPTB had made it "law" that every TV on sale had to be "Digital Ready" by several years before switchover date, then half the problems would have disappeared, and the costs would have been less. Because all TVs would have had to have it, it would no longer be possible to charge a premium for digital ready - and competitive forces would have kept set costs lower than they were.

        And of course, even after some areas had switched, "digital" was still a premium feature on most TVs simply because the marketing people could get away with it. As for what I'd like to do to whoever came up with the "HD Ready" lie, I couldn't repeat it in public !

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Just need an analog SIP box -quite a few routers already support an analogue phone line...

      That’s they way the legacy tech will be dealt with. I use a legacy tech bit of kit which is hooked up using a GSMvoice gateway, it doesn’t know it isn’t a phone line.

      Power cuts are the biggest issue...but that is at least a known issue, and I’m sure there will be VoIP adapter boxes produced with a small battery to provide a few hours of -48V power to these low powered devices.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        I should of course point out that that doesn't help if the router is down... but editing is so limited here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Turn off POTS!

      Strowger will be turning in his uniselector

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >Strowger will be turning in his uniselector

        I should imagine he will be very crossbar about it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How well will SOGEA operate in a power cut?

    1. msknight

      I suppose that will depend if they allow things like soft clients on laptops and mobiles.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's a big concern as POTS is generally regarded as a safety-of-life service. Unlike my broadband which is up and down like a whore's drawers (as my grandmother used to say) every time it rains heavily.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        The real world

        Reliability is a legacy concept. Safety is a user problem.

        1. Derezed
          Thumb Up

          Re: The real world

          @Mike137

          So innovative...so disruptive!

          1. xpz393

            Re: The real world

            @Derezed

            Such optimism.

            Wow.

            1. Derezed

              Re: The real world

              I just love Mike's post. It's my new mantra. A relative works in safety critical systems and I am definitely passing that one on :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not any more. Ofcom has lifted the power requirements, ostensibly on the basis that the landline is not as popular as it once was, with people quite happy to rely on mobile phones.

        Even FTTP wouldn't be immune to this, while the other end of the fibre is typically plugged into equipment in a nicely secured exchange, the CPE requires supply and maintenance of a battery backup solution. I believe Openreach are trying to abandon new supply of their battery backup units anyway, except for vulnerable customers (whose ISPs would also need to supply a backup unit for their own equipment as well)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How well will SOGEA operate in a power cut?

      It won't. Even if you have battery backup, and the exchange has a generator, all those fibre cabinets in-between will go dark.

      1. Sloth77

        Thats an interesting point. I was intending on getting a little UPS for my router, but not much point if the green boxes don't have a backup supply.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          They do have a backup.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            About 4 hours worth.

            1. msknight
              Facepalm

              Assuming no one has stolen the batteries. https://www.silicon.co.uk/workspace/fibre-cabinets-at-risk-of-battery-theft-70017

              "Fibre to the cabinet is “one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made” former BT exec tells the House of Lords"

              1. SImon Hobson

                Ah that takes me back, and suddenly I find myself noting that I've not read any of Peter Cochrane's ramblings for a while. Always came across as someone who knows what he's talking about, who'll speak his mind, and if it looks like a polished turd he'll call it a turd.

                But I found BT's response a bit contrived. The fact that the battery might not be of any use elsewhere is nowt to do with it - if it has a scrap value, then it's vulnerable. And you can have as much monitoring as you like - it'll still only tell you where to go with a new battery, it won't stop the original being taken. Lets face it, they've lost a lot of copper cable over the years, and unless you are setting up in competition, then a load of hone cable is no use for anything but weighing in at your nearest "ask no questions" scrappy.

                However, this is a distraction since FTTP doesn't need power outside of the exchange or premises - in between it's just passive fibre. This is part of what Peter was getting at in his flaming - with FTTC you've put part of your critical infrastructure into cabinets scattered all over the place where you can't properly secure them, and can't properly arrange alternative power.

                BT exchanges have massive batteries, which is why your good old POTS line keeps working when the lights go out. And because all the POTS lines for a whole area are fed from one building, it's relatively easy to rock up with a portable genny if needed. You can't do alternative power for dozens of FTTC cabinets dotted all over the place.

                But FTTP has a fibre running from the exchange (with it's central batteries) all the way to the premises (where the user can provide batteries) - all there is in between is fibre, some joints, and some passive splitters/combiners. As an aside, that's also one of the reasons you have to use BTOR provided equipment on the end of FTTP - one fibre is shared between multiple subscribers using wavelength multiplexing. Simply put (for those not already in the know), it's using different colours of light down one fibre - much like there are multiple radio stations you can tune into with a radio set. So the provider needs to ensure that each user has the right kit on the end of the line so as not to interfere with another user by using the wrong "colour" of laser.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Well they certainly used to, but the requirements are falling all the time. I left the sector so I don't know latest, but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't now, or don't soon.

          3. Caver_Dave Silver badge

            Backup

            In my Parishes fibre system, 2/3rds of the green box is battery backup.

    4. Lazlo Woodbine

      This is my main concern, as I live in a rural area with a gloriously unreliable power supply.

      After Storm Desmond we had no power for the best part of 4 days, so the nearest mobile masts lost power after 4 hours, we had to drive to Morecambe to get a mobile signal from across the bay in Grange...

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        I was told they run PoE lines to the cabinets ...

        1. Lazlo Woodbine

          They run fibre to the Openreach cabinets, you can't send Power Over Ethernet down fibre.

  4. Shak

    Interestingly I noticed that new Virgin Media packages now provide "landline" services via the router. As a result there are warnings abound that it won't work during powercuts or when the internet is down. Much more acceptable in a world of mobile phones but will be interesting to see if the industry can get away with no true hard isolated landlines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The new Sky router has a VoIP socket too "for future use".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        For current use for me. They completed my move to GFast in December, so I've been VoIP since then

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Comcast in the USA have battery compartments in their modem/router boxes. If you've got your phone service through them then you're supposed to have the batteries installed to be able make calls in a powercut. As it is my family have never bothered and rely on mobiles if the power goes out.

  5. JohnG

    In Germany, Deutsche Telecom has been selling "NGN" services for years - essentially, VDSL with a broadband router that incorporates a VoIP adaptor. The user just plugs their analogue or ISDN devices into the relevant ports.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      broadband router that incorporates a VoIP adaptor

      My current broadband contract came with one of these (an appropriately named Fritzbox)..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wieviel Blinkenlichte hat Ihre Fritzbox?

        1. Derezed
          Boffin

          mindestens 300...mit iodine...

          Is that Zen? I saw them flogging the "German Engineering" line :D

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            It's a reference to an old cod-German joke notice to be placed on electronic equipment, with references to Blinkenlichte and getting fritzed if you opened it and put your hand in. "Fritzed" as is to be fried, go wrong or become defective, possibly a reference to the WW2 British slang "Fritz" for Germans.

            1. PeterM42
              Mushroom

              Not to mention.....

              Das svitchenmachin is nich fur gefingerpoken nur mittengrabben.

              Itz eazy broken mit spitzen sparken.

              Zo, put das hands in der pocketen, relaxen

              Und vatch das blinkenlightz

    2. FrogsAndChips

      It's existed in France since the early 00's, starting with the Freebox and copied by all other ISPs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still coming over the same old BT rotten bell wire from the cabinet though, I bet BT £50 I don't have FTTH by 2025

    1. mrfill

      hang on there..

      Living in a rural backwater in North Suffolk, I thought that 2225 would be more likely round here. However, the entire town will be FTTH ready by the middle of the year. They did outside my place only last week, No ATM, the Post Office is about to close and buses are as rare as unicorn shit (the last train left in 1953) but *FABULOUS* internet....

    2. Sloth77

      Indeed, an inaccurate article title "ditch UK's copper phone lines".

      Fix Reg?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I understand this correctly, the plan is that by 2025 any existing landline handsets installed in peoples' homes will be useless, and need to be replaced by VOIP-capable jobbies. How many millions of handsets are going to be headed for landfill?

    1. legless82

      I use VoIP on my FTTC connection

      But use a normal DECT phone.

      My router is also a DECT base, and has a normal phone socket on it should I wish to connect anything with a wire.

    2. JohnG

      I guess the plan is to provide broadband routers that incorporate VoIP features, so your analogue phones would plug into a suitable socket on the router.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Vodafone VDSL routers already have the socket by the look of the one they sent me. Never switched it on though so no idea if it does anything.

      2. Caver_Dave Silver badge

        I have used a Vonage adaptor ever since I got a fibre provider into our local Parishes. So it's all IP for us, without changing the physical phones.

        BTW my mobile coverage is also via my broadband and a Femtocell.

    3. not-obvious

      The old pulse loop handsets which should have been binned years ago will be redundant at last but unless providers are on the make everything else should carry right on. My Fritzbox VoIP not only supports standard tone handsets but ISDN as well ( I'm in Germany too).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fritz and pulse dialling

        It's not officially supported but many Fritz boxes do, in fact, support old pulse-diallers...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No - Existing phones (and even extension sockets) plug into the analogue adaptor on the router.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        No - Existing phones (and even extension sockets) plug into the analogue adaptor on the router.

        Router? Router? Heretic!

        This stuff usually happens at the modem/NID level, ie my BT FTTH has a POTS socket in the Huawei <cough> HG8110H-20 GPON NID that's stuck on the wall, which includes a battery pack. So pretty much any modern-ish phone should be usable. Some providers might waste money on routers, but then the underlying xDSL service is almost always some form of L2VPN, at least at the wholesale level. Routers are often an extravagent luxury in modern telecomms given most 'routers' just switch*. If it ain't in my MAC table, throw it down the line. Including components to do the SIP thing just adds cost.. :p

        *Much to vendors like Cisco & Juniper's disgust. Kinda hard to keep flogging expensive edge routers when the world's rapidly moving towards switching.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Alien

          The POTS socket on the (G)PON NTE is for Fibre Voice Access. That's another service which has been canned in this announcement (just not written about by El Reg)

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Yup. FVA goes EoS at the end of this month, with the migration path being to Digital Voice for BT customers, or.. something else for other SPs. The BT Retail version can use either the PSTN port on their Smart Hub CPE, or an ATA/SIP phone. Culling FVA I think pre-dated the Soggy ear offer, and all part of the plan to silence Openreach & move voice provision to the SPs (ie BT Wholesale/Retail & third-party).

            Also curious if the Huawei fuss has had any impact, ie the Huawei ONT has a PSTN port, the Nokia version doesn't. Plus there's been some E-side fun, ie the Huawei kit is arguably better/more reliable at doing PSTN things than the ECI kit BT also uses in their exchanges. AFAIK, there are still potential problems for non-voice applications using the traditional PSTN, but supporting those becomes the SP's problem.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The FVA announcement is quite recent. Not sure if anyone other than BT was selling it anyway, and that they didn't want to use it where copper was available, and given that they are due to launch their own VoIP service (which will also work on ADSL/FTTC/G.fast) it makes little sense to continue selling this.

              As for the ONT, Openreach can have whatever ports it likes on them, Nokia would spin a custom configuration for them just as they do for other telcos (e.g. Verizon whose ONT has RFoG as well).

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                As for the ONT, Openreach can have whatever ports it likes on them, Nokia would spin a custom configuration for them just as they do for other telcos (e.g. Verizon whose ONT has RFoG as well).

                Yup. It was more that BT seems to be using the no-POTS ONT, presumably ahead of the FDA withdrawl. Rest is kind of the 3 shades of BT, and it's 'structural seperation' and some regulatory gamesmanship. So Openreach kind of doing their own thing rather than being guided by Wholesale/Retail.. who would need to extend FVA to their customer or own PSTN. So kind of divesting more of the service layer to focus on the infrastructure, especially as basic telephony can be done via SP's routers.

                I've not heard anything from Retail yet about migrating my service, possibly because they're figuring out how to respond to more complex use cases. Service-wise, the Hub's dropped out more than the line has, and they'll need to send me a new one as mine's Ethernet only.

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I know many households have more than one handset connected to the same line, I think its more common with elderly people who might not want to rush downstairs to answer the phone. Indeed may parents have one in the bedroom and one in the lounge. How will this work if they need to both be plugged into one VOIP socket on a router?

    No chance that this is going to be completed by 2025, more like 2035 before every legacy device can be connected to VOIP, and whose going to pay the costs to connect them up?

    If they want me to buy extra kit to have a landline on VOIP ill just tell them to give me broadband without the landline, as I rarely use it as it is.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: How will this work if they need to both be plugged into one VOIP socket on a router?

      DECT base station, as many people already use.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I think its more common with elderly people who might not want to rush downstairs

      Actually, it's also an issue already with elderly people who have telephone-linked emergency alarms. I've had to separate the extension wiring at the master socket and instead plug it into the "line out" of a parental alarm base station as leaving an internal phone off-hook (or the burglar alarm going faulty and doing the same thing) would prevent the alarm from being able to dial out.

      The same solution would presumably apply to a VoIP router - and I imagine it's likely that the fibre will arrive at the premises in close proximity to the existing master socket.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's possible to connect existing extension wiring to the analogue adaptor, though most people have cordless anyway these days.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Beware of the REN

        REN is a thing. Specifically a 'Ringer Equivalence Number' thing, which is bascially how much power a phone/device can draw from a phone line. Which was a.. thing in the PSTN days given power to phones is/was drawn from the phone line. More so when ringing, or just giving a mild buzz. ISTR standard UK line was REN 4, and a basic phone would be REN 1. So in theory, you could have 4 extensions that would all ring. Or not, if say, there were 2 phones and an outdoor bell that had a REN of 3. Ah, the old days!

        That also included approved UK phones/PSTN gizmos having to have their REN value marked on them, which may not be true for Ebay specials. Which is a potential pitfall if the ATA has a REN of 1, which means extensions might not ring, or work at all. Which is potentially a danger if there are things like ring indicators for people with hearing problems, or other 'unpowered' devices hanging off extension wiring.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Beware of the REN

          Or not, if say, there were 2 phones and an outdoor bell that had a REN of 3. Ah, the old days!

          In the street I grew up on there was a senior fireman with one of them; when he got a shout the whole street knew about it. As a boy I used to rush to the window as it was exciting to see him blast up the road in his fire car with blue lights flashing (he was nice enough to not turn the siren on until he hit the main road).

          Almost a grey beard icon -->

        2. Lazlo Woodbine

          Re: Beware of the REN

          I believe REN is no longer an issue these days unless you have a phone with a physical bell or fancy lighting (I used to have a phone with both a bell and fancy lighting, it was REN 2), cordless handsets draw no power from the line, and the base station only draws the voice signal, no power for the speaker or microphone.

          1. Test Man

            Re: Beware of the REN

            I would have thought that virtually everyone with a landline uses cordless phones these days. So when you think about it, if REN is still significant then you can count your cordless base as having a REN of 1, while all other cordless extensions (that connect to the base via DECT) won't have their own REN obviously.

            So it's not an issue, really.

            1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

              Re: Beware of the REN

              "Virtually" ... except I also have a fixed phone as the DECT devices obviously fail when there's a power cut and, as has already been said, emergency contact systems, burglar alarms, the extension into the shed because the DECT phone signal doesn't reach ...

              At present I would assume that Openretch will be fitting new cabinet/premise lines and terminators as required for free ... unless of course it falls under the current 'Full fibre' meaning "fibre somewhere in the network" ruling, and the new "fully digital" system means "analogue copper to the premises" which would of course save a lot of money ...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Beware of the REN

                "full fibre" means FTTP. "fibre" (thanks to Virgin) means everything else.

                SOGEA has little to do with Openreach FTTP, as it has been possible to offer a data only service over that for a long time. What it does do is allow ISPs to do data-only services on VDSL/G.fast, allowing them to get moving with those VoIP migrations long before FTTP happens.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I've used a fibre modem-router which claimed to be able to drive the POTS wiring in the house by plugging it into a phone socket and the rest of the phones are connected as normal to their phone sockets. In practice the current supplied by the router was too feeble to drive more than one phone.

    5. JohnG

      The phone socket on the router will work the same way as a phone socket i.e. you can plug in a few phones, a fax machine and an answering machine.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Openreach have a faceplate that supports "voice re-injection", i.e. it separates the outside line from the internal wiring, which can then be driven by the ISP supplied router. https://www.btplc.com/SINet/SINs/pdf/STIN517v1p3.pdf page 11 onwards

      Though the masses would likely be quite happy with DECT handsets.

      As for "who is going to pay for it" - well, the masses again will just get a new router, maybe they'll get new handsets or plug in their existing base station and life will go on. Anyone with a PSTN only alarm system that doesn't work over VoIP might have to consider an upgrade, if it hasn't reached end of life itself by that time. Progress shouldn't be held back by a few niche users.

  9. AmenFromMars

    ISDN

    Does anybody know what will happen to ISDN2?

    1. Oor Nonny-Muss

      Re: ISDN

      It's going too. Think it's last sale 2023, gone 2025

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: ISDN

        Last I checked ISDN2 is EoL this year. No more sales and switch off in 2025

  10. sebbb

    It's nothing new in other countries though. In Italy it's been the case since the introduction of VDSL2, actually there were also some ADSL offers with VoIP telephony. There is an issue yes with FTTC being not under UPSs, but also in other countries which are switching fast to FTTP the issue is no more: FTTP is finally the needed switchover from copper that retains backup facilities in the local exchange and it still works with no power. Not being able to have a decent service in London in 2020 is honestly shameful.

  11. RipeTech

    From an ancient, but still active, "PSTN" techie

    PSTN = Public Services Telephone Network

    Regulation is technology neutral and the PSTN has only been called "switched" in an attempt to suggest that switching is regulated and that since IP is routed then IP is obviously not subject to regulation. But actually all calls via the PSTN (analogue and ISDN) are routed!

    It is the ISDN incarnation of the PSTN that is being switched off, not the PSTN.

    VoIP that uses a traditional phone number is still PSTN and is subject to PSTN regulation.

    The ISDN does not really carry analogue voice communications any more that VoIP does.

    The ISDN uses a strict digital encoding and digital transmission of all of its three fundamental user interfaces: POTS, ISDN-BRI and ISDN-PRI.

    VoIP needs approximately 100 kilo bits/second of the IP transport pipe, in each direction.

    Due to VoIP's encoding approach there will be more end-to-end ( microphone-to-ear set) delay than ISDN.

    ISDN seldom exceeds 10 ms (except of course via satellite, then it can be >100 ms)

    VoIP takes up to 25 ms just to put the "speech" samples in to an IP packet, then there is router handling per hop, plus end to end speed of the electro-magnetic wave through the transport pipe., and then the anti-jitter delay at the receiving end. VoIP end-to-end delay is mediocre compared to ISDN, but this is one of the prices we will have to pay.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: From an ancient, but still active, "PSTN" techie

      "VoIP needs approximately 100 kilo bits/second of the IP transport pipe, in each direction."

      While that is true of something like G.711, many of the newer adaptive codecs use far less than this. Even the crappy of g.729 uses less, but quality is ropey at best.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: 2B or not 2B, that is the question..

        While that is true of something like G.711, many of the newer adaptive codecs use far less than this. Even the crappy of g.729 uses less, but quality is ropey at best.

        ... whether tis nobler in the config to allocate 128kbps for voice and call it good, or suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous regulators & codecs.

        Which was pretty much used in a presentation during plotting for an incumbent about doing pretty much what BT is doing now. And has been plotting for many years. But that lead to a bunch of discussions around how much to reserve for 'voice' per VDSL connection, especially given voice is a safety-of-life service and generally pretty tightly regulated. Along with customer perceptions around what a good quality voice call should sound like. In that respect, the mobile mob have helped in lowering expectations.

        But the debate ranged from the technical to the philosophical. So pretty much every voice app would be fine with less than 128kbps, but dependent on codec, session control rates* and even being able to support fax services. So why not 100kbps? And that came down mostly to safety margin and tradition. One voice channel should B 64kbps, so 2B should be easier to sell to both the regulator and customers.

        *session control can be a real-time PITA to size as sizing that capacity can vary wildly depending on what/where call manglers, gateways or SBCs are located, along with things like supporting voice & video conferencing.. Or just patiently explaining that although DSCP theoretically offers really granular traffic prioritisation, MPLS ToS bits don't care.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2B or not 2B, that is the question..

          Yep.

          Fundamentally, VoIP is only bandwidth-efficient for the carriers and corporates. For Joe Public with one or two lines, the bandwidth needed by digitised voice is dwarfed by the IP overhead (in addition to which there is the session overhead, etc).

          Hopefully it'll work out a bit better than BT's last attempt at an IP-based voice network - who else remembers BT 21CN Voice???? :(

          ps

          Thanks for mentioning fax too :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooooh gooody

    Yet another thing for TalkTalk to ròyally screw up

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price?

    What will be the price, though ? BT, in its infinite greed will want to gouge everyone and anyone.

    And will they then stop the silly adverts day and night, fucking our minds and morning tea with their hideous adverts? Gets on our nerves now, promoting their home mesh systems, which they can easily overcome with a powerful router. NO need for mesh then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Price?

      My move from 80/20 FTTC to GFast saves me the cost of the line rental, and no increase to broadband charges. i.e. I save over £200 per year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price?

        That sounds like some short term promo than a long term price cut.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Price?

          You'd think that if it appeared as a discount on the bill - it doesn't.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Price?

            That's not necessarily how promotional pricing works.

            What I'm saying is that it is very unlikely that an ISP is going to lower their prices by £20 indefinitely, even once they start taking the SOGEA product.

  14. J. R. Hartley

    Huge

    This is a game changer.

  15. DaleWV

    What about those without cell phone or ADSL of any sort. We have small groups of 1 or 2 premises in our Northumberland village community that are over 2 miles above ground cabling from a cabinet and surrounded by protected trees. No one has been able to provide reliable digital coms for these people. The village centre Is great (4G and/or >70Mb FTTC) but in those satellite communities there is no indoor mobile voice or data (not even 2G) and definitely no land line based data link.

  16. cb7

    I wouldn't mind if a) VoIP didn't suffer from random (and fucking annoying) delays and b) broadband was actually reliable enough not to drop out multiple times a day/week/month depending on the weather, the alignment of the planets and fuck knows what else.

    1. Stephen Hope

      You are suffering more from a lack of QoS on the line than VoIP directly.

      "VoIP based voice" is already pervasive in the carrier networks and interconnects and is already used between BT exchanges.

      Compression is just more complications for the carrier networks so they use G.711 coding by default - there is a national standard somewhere.

      Anyhow that gives 1 packet of 200 bytes or so each way every 20 mSec.

      Give the voice traffic priority and varying latency and drop outs causing voice audible issues pretty much go away.

      Or if QoS isnt supported, then just dedicate the line to VoIP (which is how I suspect the new 500 Kbps each way service to replace analog voice lines is gong to work).

  17. JakeMS
    Stop

    What about?

    I'm curious, where does my grandma stand in this? She doesn't have any broadband, she doesn't have a computer and she doesn't have a smart phone. And if you tell her she needs a router, she will ask where she needs to go.

    She is 85 years old, so I'm guessing by 2025, at 90 she will almost certainly still not understand broadband.

    So, if phones require broadband, this means she will be required to pay for a full broadband package, just to receive and make phone calls on her landline? Will she understand this? Will they try to flog her the most expensive, fastest, broadband package for phone calls only?

    1. Test Man

      Re: What about?

      No, currently the phone line is all PSTN and built for voice calls, with broadband service sitting on top. So you have to have both voice calls and broadband service to get broadband.

      With this thing going on, they'll effectively be independent. You'll still need a physical line but one will not depend on the other.

      So your grandma will still be able to order just a voice service on its own, it'll just be carried as VoIP over the line. And definitely vice versa (i.e. order broadband service only). No longer will the broadband service depend on the voice service needing to be there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about?

      I would expect the more socially conscious providers (and yes, BT probably count) to offer a "landline only" service that is in fact a low speed broadband line + router with the actual landline VoIP service running over that. They could then block all internet traffic other than to their VoIP platform.

      Openreach have announced a 0.5Mbps (not a typo) product which would be perfect for just this scenario.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was about to have a rant about the lack of resilience in VOIP vs POTS in the event of power cuts etc then realised I'd even distanced myself from having an analogue phone in the house. The BT line for us is only used for data al out voice traffic is now on cellular. So I guess implicitely I've accepted the risks around the lack of a working phone systems in the event of power cuts etc.

    It is a problem with homecare alarm systems (trip sensors, pull cords etc usually for older folk) which I'm involved in. Many of the legacy suppliers are bolting digital gateways onto their existing analgue kits to keep the service going without any consisderation data security at all, or no more than lip service. Conversations I've had with major suppliers are scary, they really don't know what they are doing and don't particularly care.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Conversations I've had with major suppliers are scary, they really don't know what they are doing and don't particularly care.

      Use that as a qualification guide. If they don't care, steer well clear. Also if they don't care, they may be forced to care by litigation after someone dies. Which has already happened due to suppliers offering OTT VoIP services and being more interested in revenues than liability. This spawned things like E911 regulations to protect emergency calls, along with methods to (hopefully) provide location information. It's still not perfect, but any sane large supplier should care.

      From working inside some of those suppliers, it can sometimes be a bit of a bell vs nethead situation where the.. netheads can sometimes lack awareness around safety-of-life issues. Some of that can be justified, ie things like homecare systems can be rather specialist. So it might be easy to design a pendant panic button that uses a mobile SIM to communicate, but then that may end up being used by someone with dementia, Alzheimers or other conditions not conducive to remembering to put it on charge every night.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ATA

    Where can I find a cheap ATA to stick in my router and use y DECT cordless handset? What I find is usually £30 plus of CISCO or other fancy names. Vonage is a locked system, as it were. Any pointers?

    If France and Germany can do it, why didnt BT adopt this? Greed again? Keep the plebs bleeding for a line rental a while longer?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: ATA

      These are possibly your best bet-

      https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/unified-communications/small-business-voice-gateways-ata/datasheet_C78-691106.html

      Mainly because Cisco. So availability, support, name recognition etc rather than price. Main thing to remember is an ATA is basically a computer, so costs $$ in chipsets to do A/D conversion and turn into industry compliant SIP <cough>. So you're more likely to get support from your SIP provider if you can say it's a Cisco box rather than another vendor who makes cheaper devices. Plus those can be aimed at service providers rather than retail, so support can be tricky.

      But most important thing is there's a lot of ATAs on the market that'll turn PSTN into SIP. But then what? You'd still need a SIP provider to be able to make calls unless you're just planning on your own voice VPN. And then you'll have a more complex config unless you're also running a SIP proxy/SBC that can translate phone numbers into SIP.

      So it's almost always best to get this as a service, ie broadband+SIP, or a SIP-only bundle like your Vonage example.. Although in the UK, I'd recommend looking at someone like Andrews & Arnold. Not sure if they offer a SIP-only service, but they're clueful folks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ATA

        Thanks insightful comment, Jellied Eel. My aim now is to use this ATA thingy via ethernet with the 4G Modem/Router that ISPs now give out (eg Three, Voda and EE) and then be able to use the inclusive SIM card minutes via the dect phone conected to the ATA , with the router doing the data bit and wifi.

        Kind of all in one solution, without a need for landline gouging anymore.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: ATA

          Good Luck!

          The market's shifting away from 'gouging' to bundling anyway, and there can be some fun with bundled minutes from mobile provider vs landline, eg my Infinity service has 'free' phone calls included. So can sometimes be handy (or challenging) to be able to decide which minutes you use for which call types. Then stuff like this can help-

          https://sourceforge.net/projects/asteriskathome/

          Which is a friendlier version of the good'ol Asterisk PBX. Can do some fun stuff with that, if you really fancy setting up your own home system and not rely on 'IoT' cloudybollox. The mobile provider's solution is good though, especially if you're somewhere where reception is a bit dubious.

    2. JohnG

      Re: ATA

      Personally, I swapped out my ISP's broadband router for an AVM Fritzbox, which has analogue and ISDN phone ports, an answering machine and can act as a DECT base station, in addition to the normal router/switch functions.

      In the past, I have used a small Linksys ATA and a Siemens Gigaset DECT ATA with an answering machine (but the voice menus were in German). Beware of any devices that are locked to specific VoIP providers.

    3. FrogsAndChips

      Re: ATA

      Note that in France, the ISP boxes are also locked: you can easily plug your existing phone in, but you will have to use your ISP's voice plan and the number they provide you. In general this is not an issue, since the standard is now unlimited landline calls to almost any international destination, sometimes including mobiles as well.

  20. Austin Allegro

    Quality VOIP

    When I renewed (I know, I know) my contract with BT earlier this year, I got a very hard sell about VOIP, well I think it was as I could hardly hear her. She didn't understand my point about the quality, perhaps she only heard 80% of what I said. She couldn't explain what I would do with the three phones I have (cellar, lounge, bedroom) and how VOIP would work, except that I could "carry the phone around with me". The comments about the green cabinets having batteries which last 4 hours is correct. I know, some muppet demolished/uprooted my local cabinet. It took a week to replace it and then it ran on batteries for two weeks, with a techie making a 34 mile round trip every 4 hours to replace the batteries. In the future (which is especially hard to predict as Niels Bohr said) in such circumstances ie. no VOIP due to equipment failure, what happens if I have to call 999? I have a reasonable mobile signal, if I stand against the lounge window, that too, due to the geography, is not always reliable. I'm sure all this has been thought through. I also echo the comments about very elderly only needing a cheap and reliable phone line and not broadband, my 85 year old mum, struggles with this sort of stuff. The comments, as always, are a good mixture of techie stuff and humour :-)

  21. Luiz Abdala
    Joke

    The phones will have 10 numbers and the letters A to F...

    ...so you can dial an IPv6 number?

    Coat.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great for Hackers and Spammers

    So easy for spoofed automatic calls and all at no cost to the crooks. You will need all the extra bandwidth if you get fttp at the same time.

    The "disconnect" of the landline from the web and the 999 call was the last fallback when your internet was hacked or just dead. Not that 999 calls get answered anyway - we may just as well have direct robot to robot calls.

  23. Arbuthnot the Magnificent

    Contingency kit?

    I used to work on telecoms provision in the NHS - a new build hospital we specced up had mainly SIP with ISDN2 plus some POTS emergency lines for ambulance service etc. It's all about belt and braces.

  24. BGatez

    No land lines = a huge security issue. They work when main power goes out and are more difficult to interfere with. In NY during major power failures POTS worked.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Needing a landline will soon be a thing of the past

    I didn't see any mention of fibre no longer being needed, so how can we use fibre and no landline, or are all the connections going to be dug up and be connected via telegraph poles and thus be an airline?

    1. Stephen Hope

      Re: Needing a landline will soon be a thing of the past

      BT already support fibre cable designed for running from a building to a telegraph pole so they dont always need a duct all the way to a building.

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