back to article Openreach tells El Reg it'll kill off copper sales in 118 UK locations next year

Broadband plumber Openreach will discontinue sales of copper-based products in more than 100 exchange areas across the UK, starting from June 2021, it said today. The move is part of Openreach's effort to discontinue the legacy analogue network in favour of full fibre connectivity. The 118 exchange locations (PDF) selected by …

  1. Andrew Norton

    Wow, I grew up in Liverpool (and tested my Robot Wars bots in exchanges, since my team mate had access working for BT)

    I was expecting to see all the high-end areas there, and yes, it was - Gattacre (the rich part) cressington, Childwall. Then F**k me, if I didn't see my home exchange, Stoneycroft there. It's a poor area, next to Kensington, which is one of the poorest in the country (and 2nd poorest in Europe back in the 80s). There was no DSL there as recently as 2003 (when i moved out) and phone line quality was BAD. Guess that prompted them to completely upgrade the exchanges.

    1. Recluse

      Just to clarify (in case anyone is looking for “Gattacre” in the BT bumph) Mr Norton has spelled Gateacre as it as it is pronounced locally in Liverpool).

      1. Andrew Norton

        yeah, you can take the lad out of the pool, but ya can't make im spell right, like!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. MatthewHughes

      Funnily enough, I'm (the author of this post) from Liverpool, and my dad grew up not far from Stoneycroft. While I wouldn't say it's become gentrified in the way parts of Toxteth have, the area is a bit better than I'm told it used to be.

      Kensington itself, however, is dog-rough.

      1. Andrew Norton

        yeah, my old school friends have told me it's changed some. I even took my son on a bit of a streetview tour the other night of there, after the old swan water burst. my young years were spent in stoneycroft, knotty ash and kensington (my grandfather owned a store at the far end), but later on I spent a lot of time in wavertree going to school there.

        To give people an idea how rough Kenny is, in 99 I took my first trip to the US to work on the very first BattleBots event in Long Beach. I decided to take public transit rather than a shuttle bus back to LAX, so it was bus to the subway to LAX. I screwed up and ended up walking around Compton toting two suitcases. I didn't know it was Compton because I was expecting 'bad', but it was nicer than the area I grew up, to me. So yeah, Kensington, not as nice as Compton in the 90s...

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          The USA are a bit funny in that respect - over here, it's generally a lot more obvious when you're walking from an OK to not-OK area; over there, not so much - I remember talking to various cab drivers / receptionists / restaurant staff, all appalled and seemingly surprised I was still alive and in possession of my valuables after mentioning where I'd been.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "[...] over here, it's generally a lot more obvious when you're walking from an OK to not-OK area [...]"

            On a site visit to Leeds about 20 years ago I stayed at a nearby hotel - then in the morning trundled my Lan monitoring kit on a luggage trolley for the short walk to their offices. The customer staff were horrified and pointed to a recently burned out building opposite. For the rest of my visit - members of the IT team took it in turns to ferry me both ways.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    118

    We've got their number.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: 118

      But can you afford to call it?

    2. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: 118

      or should we be Reading that as 0118 ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 118

        0118 isn't even on the radar :-(

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: 118

      It used to be 192, but BT decided that 2mbps was enough speed for anyone.

  3. Mr Humbug

    Not sure how they measure availability of FTTP

    I see the exchanges that both home and work are connected to are on that list, but FTTP is not available at either address. Although Openreach was digging up the streets near work in January.

    Edit:

    I just found the Ofcom availability map, which shows that almost everywhere around work, except for the road that we are on, can get FTTP.

    I am annoyed.

    1. Mr Humbug

      Now I'm really quite irritated

      After checking all the neighboring properties with the tool on the Openreach web site it turns out that our office and the primary school next door are the only addresses that cannot get FTTP around here. It's even available at addresses that are served by the same pole that we are.

      I wonder why Openreach thinks that houses need 1Gbps fibre, but a primary school should be satisfied with 30 Mbps (the 'minimum guaranteed' speed of an FTTC line at that address)

    2. Skoorb

      Re: Not sure how they measure availability of FTTP

      Tell me about it. The exchange I'm on has been fibre for years, but the road we live on (and the roads around it) aren't event FTTC yet! It's copper all the way or nothing.

      We're not in a conservation area or anything else like that, and roads both closer and further away from the exchange all have fibre cabinets.

      Openreach's website simply says "We don’t have plans to upgrade your area yet."

    3. johnfbw

      Re: Not sure how they measure availability of FTTP

      I have FTTP wires outside my house - I spoke to the guy working on them who confirmed that it was 100% possible to have FTTP 5m away in my house. It took me a year to convince BT that their system was wrong and I could in fact get it. 6 years later they still tell me I can't get it (even when I show them the picture of the fibre coming into my fibre modem!)

  4. Dwarf Silver badge

    I wonder if this is in any way related to where they suffer the highest costs due to copper theft ?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Educated cable thieves? Shirley knot.

      Replacing copper with fiber will only save telcos money if the cable thieves are high class criminals: those with enough know how to tell a fiber cable from a copper one before they dig it up. Those who can't are going to rip the cable out of the ground anyway, and only then realize that what they just pulled is worthless, and probably trash the fiber termination cabinet out of sheer frustration.

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: Educated cable thieves? Shirley knot.

        Possibly tall tale:

        Company laying cable places thin plastic sheeting printed with "FIBRE OPTIC CABLE - DOES NOT CONTAIN COPPER" message over it before refilling the trench.

        Cable thieves pull up the cable anyway, leaving a note saying "sorry - we have to check".

  5. Soruk

    Seems my area is on the list too (Chineham). I didn't know FTTP was here. I might look into an upgrade...

  6. Richard Tobin

    75% FTTP penetration?

    What does "FTTP penetration must reach 75 per cent" mean? 75% of customers have FTTP? Hard to believe that's true of any exchange, or likely to be in the near future. And if it just means it's available to 75% of premises, what will they do about the other 25%?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 75% FTTP penetration?

      "what will they do about the other 25%?"

      .... I'd expect they'll be bribed with a 6-month introductiry discount to their new contract

      1. Fair Play
        Flame

        Re: 75% FTTP penetration?

        A 6-month introductory discount for my ADSL Max connection to a Market A exchange a mile away, over which I get a lightning-fast (I jest...) 4.2 Mbps connection?

        I can hardly wait. I can't even apply for a USO connection because (wait for it) the BT USO site at https://www.bt.com/broadband/USO says I can get 10+ Mbps. Even though I can't.

        BT will probably just turn off all the copper anyway, as they don't give a f***.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I suppose this means that even if you could have got good enough FTTP performance for your own needs, or even if you just wanted POTS you're going to have to pay extra to subsidise those who want more.

  8. Reg Reader 1

    It's expensive to replace copper with Fiber, but once it has been replaced troubles incidents and repair go way down.

  9. Lorribot

    The reality of FTTP

    For those that have yet to experience it, OpenReach's FTTP offering has two cables to the premise and Fibre and and a Copper one in the same bit of cable in the drop line from the pole or the equivilent under ground connection.

    Most ISPs will offer either Phone and Broadband or just Broadband, (BT insist on phone and Broadband). So you still have a POTS available and I asume you could if you chose just have that you just wont have the coice of ADSL even if you live 200M away from the exchange and 20/1Mb is ok for you.

    Most ISPs do offer range of speeds from 100 up to 300 ( though a 1Gb is available in some areas.

    I would assume that the 75% is the proportion of new sales.

    This could be an issue for those on lower pay, but in reality when I moved from FTTC to FTTP, I just droped the anytime bit on the phone part and it was actually cheaper to go from 13/0.5 Mb/s to 150/30 Mb/s with BT (24 month discount) than stay with PlusNet (no FTTP offering), Zen had a similar priced Internet only deal available so would likely have gone with them (not known for being cheap but a quality ISP) and we all have mobiles these days anyway.

    1. alwallgbr
      Thumb Down

      Re: The reality of FTTP

      There is no copper involved in the latest BT FTTP offering, just optical fibre.

      If you require a phone service you will now get "Digital Voice" and either use BT supplied wifi phones that connect to the Smart Hub or use the port on the rear of the hub for a DECT or conventional (DTMF) phone. BT warn that this service will not work during a power cut

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: The reality of FTTP

        Being forced to use BT's hardware would be a reason not to use them (if I ever move back).

      2. Persona Silver badge

        Re: The reality of FTTP

        BT warn that this service will not work during a power cut

        Whilst the mains powered DECT and wifi phones obviously won't work in a power outage a conventional phone plugged into the Openreach fibre adapter/modem (not the BT Smart Hub) does as it has a battery backup. I can confirm this works with my FTTP.

        1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
          FAIL

          long power cut = phone cut

          The conventional phone will only work for about the first hour after the mains failure - the battery backup is small compared to the power drain of the adapter. If the mains fails at night while you are sleeping then you will be unable to use the conventional phone to call for help. For areas without mobile coverage this is a big problem that BT and OFCOM are trying to hide under the carpet.

          (Conventional phones with a copper connection to the exchange are powered by the exchange and the batteries at the exchange (and backup generator if present) can normally keep the phone service going for more than 24 hours in the absence of mains electricity.)

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: long power cut = phone cut

            "

            If the mains fails at night while you are sleeping then you will be unable to use the conventional phone to call for help.

            "

            If this is a concern, then just buy a cheap UPS with enough battery to power the unit for a few days.

          2. Persona Silver badge

            Re: long power cut = phone cut

            If the mains fails at night while you are sleeping then you will be unable to use the conventional phone to call for help.

            It uses 4 AA batteries which are customer replaceable. Not ideal, or what you would want in an emergency but the workaround is easy enough. People relying on mobile phones and forgetting to charge them (or their power bank) are a bigger issue.

        2. alwallgbr
          Unhappy

          Re: The reality of FTTP

          Unfortunately the FVA product can no longer be ordered ☹

          So we are stuck with having to use a UPS to power both the Smart Hub and the ONT

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: The reality of FTTP

        It will work so long as you power the unit via a UPS.

    2. legless82

      Re: The reality of FTTP

      The first thing I did when I bought FTTP through Zen is to terminate my copper line.

      It still sees quite a lot of use for inbound calls for my wife's business, but I ported it to VoIP through Andrews & Arnold for £1.20 a month. Zen's standard-issue AVM FritzBox router has a built-in DECT base station, so I just re-paired all of the phone handsets to the AVM router and everything (on the surface) acts exactly as it did before.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The reality of FTTP

        I get my FTTP through A&A and, like you, ported my landline number to them. ISPs in general are very reluctant to mention the possibility of dropping the copper, but since there is no separate line rental for fibre, but IP+phone costs have dropped significantly since I went VOIP, even though I pay 2p per minute for calls.

        It's also much better for working at home, since the same number can have up to eight calls simultaneously.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The reality of FTTP

        "[...] so I just re-paired all of the phone handsets to the AVM router and everything (on the surface) acts exactly as it did before."

        That seems to suggest that DECT phones conform to a compatibility standard. Can one really pair any DECT phone to any different model/manufacturer base station?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The reality of FTTP

          Yes. Or they wouldn't be DECT!

        2. legless82

          Re: The reality of FTTP

          Yup, as long as the handset is compatible with the DECT-GAP standard, you can pair it with anything.

          I've yet to find a DECT handset that you can't do this with.

  10. Roger 17

    Fibre

    Fibre to the house? I'd love to have copper instead of the crappy aluminium from my exchange.

  11. Persona Silver badge

    Fibre and copper

    I'm in the odd situation of having both FTTP fibre for broadband and copper for my landline phone. Despite saying it would not be a problem during the order process BT were unable to transfer our old copper phone number to our new FTTP connection. Apparently the numbers for fibre came from a different pool so the number they wanted to give us was different (only the last 3 digits). At the time we got FTTP we needed to keep the same phone number. Despite escalation and complaints BT were unable to assign the old number to the new service so they reverted our phone part of the service to copper. Apparently being able to preserve your number when moving to FTTP was technically simple from an engineering perspective but there was no BT order process to make it happen. Hopefully they have sorted that out in the last year or so as I would like to get rid of the copper but my wife is very attached to the phone number we have had for the last 25+ years.

    1. legless82

      Re: Fibre and copper

      Ditch BT and use another VoIP provider - most of them can port any BT number. I use Andrews and Arnold and it was a one-time porting fee of £15, and £1.20/month after that for the service.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Fibre and copper

      OTOH just how long would it take to promulgate a new phone number? My guess is that you should be able to inform everyone who mattered of your new number, and change web sites etc. within two or three months. Have both old & new numbers operational during the transition, and during the latter period put an answerphone on the old number instructing the caller to hang up and call the new number (which tends to get people to change their contact list).

  12. Robert Grant Silver badge

    what was the right trigger-point for implementing stop-sell

    The dumbest phrasings award goes to...

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

    Quick Question regaring Fibre

    Is is still asymmetric - do you get a full xxxMPBS up and down ?

    Asking for a friend after looking stupid by typing asynchronous instead of asymmetric...

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Quick Question regaring Fibre

      Short answer is "yes it's asymmetric" for most residential packages.

      1. simpfeld

        Re: Quick Question regaring Fibre

        I wonder why it would be asymmetric, I can understand why on DSL (limited frequency range so optimised to use for each direction), but on fibre. Sounds like an artificial scarcity situation again so people still have to pay for business class leased line. There isn't so much asymmetric network gear!

        1. Lunatic Looking For Asylum

          Re: Quick Question regaring Fibre

          It's greed pure and simple. If I wanted to do it on a switch, I'd have to go in and configure the port to be asymmetric - by default they will be full duplex symmetric.

          OFCOM are a waste of space IMHO.

          I'm in an area that has no plans for fiber - I think because NTBloodyHell rolled out coax to the estate many years ago, we're deemed as being already served with a fast connection which is OK if you want to use them (Virgin Nowadays).

          I'd like to have fibre but there weren't many NE England exchanges mentioned on that list so it looks like it will be a few more years yet.

    2. Xalran

      Re: Quick Question regaring Fibre

      Technically fiber is symetrical. and technically FTTH is can go to 1Gb up and down. ( at least, depending on the tech used )

      Now since ISPs are ISPs and they especially do not want you to hosts things at home but prefer that you pay them to host them in their datacenters, they make sure FTTH is not symetrical by capping the bandwidths. It's going to depend on the ISP but things like 500Mb down 100Mb up are not suprising.

  15. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    330Mbps though?

    Most of Openreach's Fibre connects to equipment at the exchange that can only provide 330Mbps download (and 50 Mbps upload). It might not matter to most people but I do hope that they're putting in better kit now. Now people might realise that 1Gbps both ways might actually be necessary to have better quality video calling. Yes, 50Mbps will be absolutely fine too, but why not do it properly? Then we know that everybody with broadband will be able to connect and not have to worry who else in the house is using Netflix, gaming or other video calls.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: 330Mbps though?

      I have the basic 80Mbps offering from A&A and it seems entirely adequate. The main problem I have is in getting wifi around a 200 year old cottage with thick stone walls. Mind you, the A&A-supplied Zyxel router is so crap that laptops only get 2 out of 5 bars standing 4' away from it. I really need to get a better router.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 330Mbps though?

        "[...] the A&A-supplied Zyxel router is so crap [...]"

        No particular problems here. All bars at 2.4gHz - one floor up at opposite side of the house to the A&A Zyxel on the floor in the hall. Did try 5gHz as this is a densely populated urban street - but it often lost the connection and reverted to 2.4gHz. Don't know what to blame for that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 330Mbps though?

      "Then we know that everybody with broadband will be able to connect and not have to worry who else in the house is using Netflix, gaming or other video calls."

      The history of data networking shows that bloat always occurs. Basically Parkinson's Law - everything expands to use all the available resources.

  16. AGeezer

    No FTTC!

    <RANT>

    They have not finished their last rollouts yet! Those with fast internet access will now be able to get faster access. I do not live out in the stix, SL5 postcode, and do not have superfast BB even though I am on a cabinet and less than 1Km from the exchange.

    Perhaps they could stop patting themselves on the back and finish the rollouts that were supposed to be complete a decade ago!

    </RANT>

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