back to article Broadband plumber Openreach yanks legacy copper phone lines in Suffolk town of Mildenhall en route to getting the UK on VoIP

The tiny Suffolk town of Mildenhall is the second place where Openreach has stopped selling copper products as the company develops its strategy for withdrawing legacy telephone lines. The "stop-sell" order came into effect on 4 May, and also extends to copper-based phone connections. It follows a similar stop-sell edict in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Openreach advice includes this: "The newer digital technologies will allow you to make your calls over the internet"

    Pointless commentary - and potentially confusing to existing users.

    I'm off to buy shares in micro-UPS manufacturers.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The legacy copper network has proven particularly expensive to maintain as the cables and telephone poles used are exposed to the elements, and thus susceptible to weather damage."

    My telephone connection is entirely underground except for the green footway boxes connecting bits of underground cables together. My neighbours' connections are all strung from posts for the last few 10s of metres. If/when fibre connections replace them are made my guess is that all of them, including mine, will be overhead.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      The legacy copper network has proven particularly expensive to maintain as the cables and telephone poles used are exposed to the elements, and thus susceptible to weather damage

      So how does the fibre get from green box to house? Carried by a team of fairies?

      I've had FTTP for several years. All our fibre is strung along poles until it is attached to a box on the outside of the house. Granted that fibre is less prone to bad weather problems, or too-long lengths of cable, but it's still outdoors and potentially prone to damage in places by farmers cutting back hedges and grass with mighty machinery. About 10 years back ours gave a short back and sides to some sort of junction thing near ground level. Took BT weeks to sort out which wires were which. Fibre will probably be harder!

  3. hoola Silver badge

    "The handset will plug into a router"

    Yet another piece of insecure tat that needs to be patched and replaced when it inevitably fails. Is the provider going to do the remotely?

    If not then how the hell is a normal user supposed to sort it out.

    I don't know much about how it works in the house but most people have more than one socket and often the ISP router is not in the same place as the master socket. Does this mean that we now have to rewire to get the inbound phone (or more appropriately) IP connecting into the property and to a convenient location?

    Will it be possible to replace the router with your own equipment?

    For instance Fritz.box include IP telephony capability in many or their products.

    Look at all those horrendous "Technicolor" boxes that were given away (or even charged for) by the ISPs. I am sure there are plenty of other examples people can add to the list.

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

      Re PSTN sockets where you need'em. Telephone wiring is a dark art to me - but if Openreach cut off the master socket from the exchange - is it not possible for the FTTP router/ATA to connect back to it's old socket and power the home PSTN network in reverse? Hence phones on any old PSTN socket will connect to the router/ATA and nothing changes for the old 'extensions' phones except connection to the outside world is via router then broadband via an ATA rather than PSTN mster socket?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

        That sounds plausable to me - power may be an issue, but then that was always an issue with extensions anyway, and totalling up RENs.

        Still, don't listen to me, I'm stupid, and anonymous!

        1. Mishak

          RENs

          It's worth checking any gear, as lots of it actually has a load much lower than '1' these days.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "to connect back to its old socket and power the home PSTN network"

        It's exactly what any ATA - embedded in the router or not - does. You just may need to check how many REN it is capable of, especially if you have some old equipment you wish to be able to keep on using.

        For example AVM FritzBox! ATA is capable only of 1 REN (though they have a DECT base embedded, and a mini-PBX) - while some external ATAs from Grandstream or Cisco can deliver up to 4-5 REN depending on the model. Most other routers are probably something between - and unluckily that could be a specification hard to find.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "to connect back to its old socket and power the home PSTN network"

          "You just may need to check how many REN it is capable of, especially if you have some old equipment you wish to be able to keep on using."

          OMG! You mean my fax might not work? How will I keep in touch with Aunty Gerty??!!!?!?!?

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: "to connect back to its old socket and power the home PSTN network"

            REN is important only to make analog phones ring. Most recent phones with electronic ringer uses far less than one REN. Phones that are also plugged to the mains like DECT bases and faxes use that power to work, and of course portable devices ring from their batteries.

            The REN number thereby just tell how many phones you can connect and have still them ring correctly. People still liking their electro-mechanical sets may need to look for a proper ATA or replace them.

            If Aunt Gerty still likes her fax to exchange her recipes, or it's Oldsons & C., they still work over VoIP with the proper codec or protocols like T.38 but that has nothing to do with REN.

    2. Timbo

      Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

      "Look at all those horrendous "Technicolor" boxes that were given away..."

      I've got a Technicolor TG589 v2 box and it's working very well, esp after I upgraded to a Fibre connection...it has had some firmware updates and has never "hung", unlike some Draytek routers I had in the past. :-(

    3. Bogbody

      Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

      Or the "router" will contain a DECT phone basestation with the phones wirelessly connected.

      DECT works very well. Lets just hope that the DECT version used is truly universal and "CLI" works accross all brands of phone .... on hang on .... my Rose Tinted Glasses have gone opaque.....

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

        Until there's a power cut. That's where the original, still connected handset comes into its own.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

          I wonder how many people still use a line powered phone these days.

          1. Sherrie Ludwig

            Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

            I wonder how many people still use a line powered phone these days.

            If one lives in the rural areas of the US, It is smart to have one because the power goes out regularly; Cell service at the best of times is spotty, after a good storm nonexistent.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "The handset will plug into a router"

              How easy would it be to power some of these formerly line powered gadgets via e.g. USB? E.g. USB wallwarts are ten a penny (almost), even mains sockets with built in USB power are common as muck. Same goes for USB power banks, etc.

              Any mileage in that? Anyone patented it yet?

              Personally I'd prefer PoE but that seems like a lost cause.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The way forward then

    So lots of safety and security critical systems will stop working, power outages will bring comms down and you'll need new equipment. Sounds like a great way forward.

    Apart from which VoIP is still a hazardous kludge. IP is the worst possible protocol for voice (out of order delivery and variable latency). So they put a super layer over it to correct for these inherent incompatibilities. And let's not start talking about SIP. As generally implemented, it is, and has always been, a Swiss cheese to attackers. I co-authored a warning article about this for SIP Informer in 2001, but nothing much has improved since then.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "IP is the worst possible protocol for voice!

      Without proper QoS, yes. The best ISPs use separate VLANs with different QoS for data and voice traffic. Cheap routers or ATAs/VoIP phones attached to networks without proper QoS can create issued with very heavy traffic.

      "And let's not start talking about SIP."

      Again, you should not left it open to anyone but the ISP own SIP proxies - after all the router has no reason to run a generic SIP server open to anyone.

      Is the router SIP service is behind NAT and uses ALG/STUN to work is usually hard to detect from outside - but allowing it to receive traffic only from the proxy servers it has resolved it's a good idea. If you just forward the SIP port that needs to be better protected to avoid exposing it to everybody.

      You can use a UPS - there are even 12V power bricks now - to keep the router alive for a while, but if the other end of the internet connection fails as well the phone line goes down. That's usually better in FTTH where the OLTs can be farer away and in structures that may have emergency power - worse in FTTC (including G.fast) where the fibre endpoint is close to the user equipment and thereby usually hit by the same power outages and without emergency power. Still some smaller G.fast ONUs can be powered by the CPE.

      1. GreyWolf

        Re: "IP is the worst possible protocol for voice!

        Your post looks to me like a list of the reasons why the whole thing is technically wrong-headed.

        When people are harmed because of the loss of emergency calling, will BT accept any responsibility? Not bloody likely.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "IP is the worst possible protocol for voice!

          You know that at the exchange the call becomes VoIP anyway? Since mechanical relays are long gone?

          It's just a matter of configuring VoIP correctly - just like you need to configure a POTS line correctly. POTS line do fail as well - especially when they are older.

          Anything written in my post is not rocket science - is basic network design and configurations. In some ways IPv6 would also make VoIP easier as NAT goes away (thereby the SIP endpoint will need proper firewalling), and most ISPs will be forced to assign static prefixes instead of dynamic IPs.

          One thing is true, anyway - ISP can't no longer treat VoIP systems as a "nice to have" instead of a critical infrastructure and have to design it accordingly for resilience.

          Moreover the less people use landlines because they use mobile calls or even chats, the more they may be unaware the phone line is not working. Routers and other systems should have some kind of notification mechanism to alert the user in some simple way.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "IP is the worst possible protocol for voice!

          >When people are harmed because of the loss of emergency calling, will BT accept any responsibility?

          Funny how the loss of (analogue lline) emergency calling from the home is a downside, yet in general the use of personal mobile phones outside of the home is regarded as being able to save lives compared to relying on fixed line phone boxes and the time and effort needed to locate a working one.

    2. Mike Pellatt

      Re: The way forward then

      Agreed, SIP is a technology with remote intercept capability and other inherent vulns. Especially since SIP over TLS and S/RTP are so very hard (once you've found a provider who can offer it - and I've been there)

      But is it.worse than POTS? Pitch up to a street cab or DP with appropriate bits including yellow hi-viz and you'll have hours, if not days, to find the pair you want and listen in.

      VM used to make it really easy, having street cabs with the doors flapping in the breeze everywhere, but I hear they've upped their game lately.

      PS the existing phone sockets in the UK aren't RJ11, but a unique design chosen solely to prevent unapproved phones being connected. All in the name of preventing bell tinkle when using pulse dialling and electromagnetic bells. Back then even trivial stiff like that was important, let.alome important stuff like the phone working during a power cut. Once this is implemented, I'll have to walk 200m to get mobile coverage to report a power outage to the DNO. (Not really, I have a UPS. But I'm a techy)

  5. LDS Silver badge

    "This may necessitate the purchase of a new handset"

    Which standard is BT going to use? Here VoIP transition is quite simple as routers have built-in ATAs so you can connect your home analog phone line to them and keep on using the same handsets as before. Of course if you like you can go fully VoIP and use pure VoIP products - but that's your choice.

    Only very old devices requiring pulse dialing instead of DTMF stopped working - but because my ATA doesn't support pulse. There are some ATAs that even support that.

    1. BikNorton

      Re: "This may necessitate the purchase of a new handset"

      That's exactly what BT have done - the super hub 2 has a phone socket on the back so your existing corded system -at least, as connected to the master socket - continues working

      If your phone is on extension wiring they offer you one adaptor or cordless handset for free.

  6. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Perhaps

    We'll revert to the old style 'wind up' telephones you see in early Jimmy Stewart films, you know the ones with the separate ear piece, where you use a small handle to generate a current to attract the operator's attention? Just for use in emergencies, of course, otherwise I'll use my mobile, like everyone else.

    ;o)

    1. GreyWolf

      Re: Perhaps

      Congrats that you can use your mobile for emergency calls.

      Some of us live outside mobile coverage. Losing our landline means losing any ability to make emergency calls in a power cut.

      1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Perhaps

        My mobile only works at home because I use wireless calling!

        However, I have my router, server, network switch and DECT base-station on a UPS so I have some up-time.

        I happen to know that my Gigaclear, village level optical router (for want of a better term) green-box is 2/3rds full of backup battery.

        I am confident that I can survive broadband and telephony wise for a few hours without mains power. (Last year my teenage daughter was working from home on a laptop and only knew of the (20 minutes) mains outage when half of her classmates suddenly disappeared from the Teams call.)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Perhaps

          "However, I have my router, server, network switch and DECT base-station on a UPS so I have some up-time."

          And even that is assuming that everything up to and including the exchange which may be affected by the power cut also has a working UPS with reasonably decent batteries in them. Your UPS isn't going to be much help if the green box down the road last had it's batteries changed 5 years ago and now only has a 5 minute battery life :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Everyone else?

      My parents in their late 80s don’t own a mobile phone. I bought them once, it lay in a draw uncharged for a few years and no longer works. They don’t see the point in them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Everyone else?

        If people don't want to communicate with others, there is little you can do to persuade them.

        "Ignorance is bliss" really isn't something to aspire to.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Everyone else?

          Not having a mobile phone doesn't preclude communicating with others. It just stops you communicating remotely with people when you are not at home.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Everyone else?

            Yet the ability to communicate with others when away from home could literally be life saver. Their own, or someone else's.

            It's hard to believe they "can't see the point".

            But hey, they may just not care.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Everyone else?

              "But hey, they may just not care."

              Yep, that's probably it. Humanity has managed all of history other than the last few decades with limited means of remote communication of any type. I have no problem with people choosing to remain in that situation. Especially 80 year old retired pensioners who spent most of their life without those facilities and really don't want to be bothered by spam/sales/whatever while out shopping or otherwise enjoying their well deserved retirement.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Everyone else?

                From the OP it sounded as if the phone could have been 2G so spam is unlikely to be an issue.

                On the other hand, vehicle breakdowns / accidents / sudden ill health away from home without access to emergency services could literally be a showstopper for 80 year olds. Not much consolation one partner turning to the other and saying "if only we had a mobile phone".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps

      @Eclectic Man

      If everyone is experiencing the same local emergency as you, the probability of your mobile phone working will be close to zero.

  7. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Lack of mains

    This is a serious issue. When there are floods, gales or other interruptions to power you wont even be able to report it. What a STUPID STUPID STUPID idea. What BONE HEADED ARSE WIPE didnt think it thtough?

    At the VERY LEAST it should be reasonable to put a long duration battery in the router and allow a single handset to function for emergency calls, maybe for a week or so. Anything less just makes the whole idea of a phone system less relevant. It means I end up needing to rely on a mobile phone for emergency calls. If the mobile companies get the data plan prices right why then would I bother with a fibre or indeed any other permanent connection? After all, last time I checked getting a phone line 'installed' (or in this case just swapped from the previous house owner to me, with no rewiring, no new equipment, no visit) took BT/Openreach a MONTH to sort out, a new mobile contract including new phone takes 10 minutes.

    1. Silly Brit

      Re: Lack of mains

      Ditto!

      The current phone network is reasonably resiliant when it comes to power outages, compared to the typical power redundacy available for the networks of a typical user.

      After all, many wireless handsets come with a warning that the handset can't be used in a power cut & you need to furnish yourself with an old-school wired jobbie to make calls in an emergency.

      Even some of the mobile networks have been less than great during power cuts.

      I can imagine there being lots of confused folks around as this starts to filter out across the country. Really needs what you should do in a power cut clearly communicated & have clear expectations on providers laid out (which it probably already is in a 2,000 page standard buried in a basement somewhere).

      1. bawbee

        Re: Lack of mains

        I believe that the PSTN provides 99.999% availabilty.

        Will VoIP match this?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Lack of mains

          Is there not a legal requirement for this enshrined in law too? Has that law been adjusted or repealed? Or am I just dreaming?

          1. The obvious

            Re: Lack of mains

            OFCOM revised their requirements something like 10 years ago, IIRC.

            Analogue PSTN providers are only required to cover the first 60 minutes of an outage (though obviously many will far exceed this to ensure that they're compliant). For full-fibre they are required to provide 60 minutes battery backup for 'vulnerable' customers in their CPE and the rest of us are on our own.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Lack of mains

              From the comments here (and elsewhere where this story is reported), it does seem that many have missed the Ofcom stance on the matter, firstly mandating 4 hours and then reducing this to 1 hour etc. after the bun fight about who was responsible for and thus pay for the batteries...

              I think if we want BT to be 'commercial', we do have to accept that some of the old "essential utility" stuff has to be let go. Perhaps the time is right for the power companies to step up and make their networks more reliable and contribute to the cost of phone provision during an outage of their distribution network...

              Personally, I'm happy if the battery backup unit can take both rechargeable and non-rechargeable (AA) batteries. This gives me protection from power glitches (sub-10 minute) and if the power is off for more than an hour, I can simply drop in some non-rechargeable AA batteries sitting in the draw as and when I need to make a phone call.

              Obviously, if your need is different, then I'm sure different sized batteries etc. can be supplied. In factif the emergency is that great, perhaps a solution that uses the batteries in the electric car would be appropriate.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "When there are floods"

      There are good chances even the POTS system goes down - if the central exchange is flooded emergency power is useless - as it will just trigger more damages if not cut. There are also more chances that efforts are directly first to repair the mobile network because that is morfe useful for rescue operations themselves, than fixed lines. Moreover flooded lines may short-circuit and stop working anyway - depending what the water reaches.

      Central exchanges themselves need to be powered, and if they have emergency generators they need fuel to keep on running - otherwise after some hours depending on the tank sizes they will shut down as well. Gas-powered ones need that the gas supply is not interrupted, something that again can happen when there's a danger they can create or spread fires.

      I have around one of those Nokia very simple phones with a battery that last far longer than any smartphone, as an emergency backup.

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: "When there are floods"

        Back when BT was part of the Post Office, the people planning where to put exchanges were usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely. The exchanges also had batteries big enough to run the exchange (and all the telephones because they were powered from the exchange) for 24 hours or more. Many exchanges also had backup generators that could keep the exchange operational for a week or more.

        With telephones depending on mains driven adapters (with a ONE hour backup battery), mobile phone masts also dependent on mains power (backup batteries normally have only a few hours capacity - when they are even present!!) any prolonged mains outage is going to result in a complete loss of communications.

        The thing to remember about BT/OpenReach and their lapdog OFCOM is that all they care about is profits - emergency cover, alarms etc are not profitable so any excuse to drop them will be taken.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely."

          Sure - if you have a place near enough with the right requirements - not always that is possible. And remember what happened to the emergency power of a Japanese nuclear plant?

          Anyway if your nearest box with cables is under water - they are not waterproof at all - phones will stop working anyway as electric circuits won't work in water - and power may need to be cut off to avoid issues at the exchange devices.

          From this perspective a full passive fibre connection may still work if no dirt enters between the connectors.

          1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

            Re: "usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely."

            Old analog phones usually worked even if a cabinet was under water - the operating voltage was 50 volts and the phones would still work down to about 35 volts. The leakage from a single connection point being under water was not normally enough to stop operation (it did make for poor voice quality).

            Please remember the PSTN network operated at a much lower voltage than mains electricity (50v DC vs 240v AC) so it was nothing like as badly affected by water.

            The Japanese nuclear plant had its backup generators in the basement which meant that even after the tidal wave had receded the generators were still inoperable. If the Japanese government had been even halfway competent they would have airlifted a couple of 1MW generators to the site in the 24 hours after the tidal wave - this would have been sufficient to keep the cooling systems going and the plant would have suffered no serious damage. (A 1MW generator is light enough to be slung under several types of helicopter.)

            Please also remember fibreoptic cables are normally far more fragile than the traditional phone cables. (A 100 pair telephone cable can withstand someone standing on it - a fibre cable is very likely to be broken by the same load.)

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: "usually competent enough to not site them in spots where flooding was likely."

              Just the phone to ring has to bring the voltage and current much higher. I won't rely on a drowned cabinet keeping on working with all those cables very close to each other, even at low voltage. And remember those cables are attached to electronic devise that may not like what's happening.

              Nowadays the only coppers links left are the last mile. Everything else is fibre. A fibre cable is not much more fragile than a copper one, and a bulldozer will happily cut through them both.

    3. GreyWolf

      Re: Lack of mains

      I agree with your main point, except want to point out that there are plenty of places round the country where there is no mobile phone coverage, even in the prosperous and well-populated South.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lack of mains

      "This is a serious issue. When there are floods, gales or other interruptions to power you wont even be able to report it. What a STUPID STUPID STUPID idea. What BONE HEADED ARSE WIPE didnt think it thtough?"

      "Only a very small number of customer that we are aware of were affected, it really wasn't a much of on an incident at all, but we do apologise for any inconvenience suffered by the tiny minority of customers who reported being under 3m of sewage infested water at the time"

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Lack of mains

      >This is a serious issue. When there are floods, gales or other interruptions to power you wont even be able to report it.

      The power network is now instrumented and continuously monitored. The central control should know your power is out and be responding without your call. The question how long does it take before someone realises that with multiple services out in a particular area, something big has gone down...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lack of mains

        "The power network is now instrumented and continuously monitored."

        Really? References welcome. If I phone 105 [1] to report/check power issues (works anywhere(?) in the UK, but mostly I'm in ex-MANWEB territory) it's rare for them to have any info ready and waiting.

        "with multiple services out in a particular area, something big has gone down..."

        *IF* there is sufficient telemetry etc to know where issues are appearing, integrating the information to help decide where the underlying upstream issues are is old-school stuff. I worked with a couple of utilities literally decades ago on automated fault detection and management in different kinds of distribution network How widely it's been deployed and how effectively the resulting information is used (e.g. with the general public) is a different question.

        [1] https://www.powercut105.com/

        1. Mike Pellatt

          Re: Lack of mains

          Indeed. Looks out of my window at the pole-mounted single-phase 11KV-230V transformer feeding half a dozen properties.

          Nope, no telemetry there. Now, if I had a SMETS2 smart meter, perhaps they could use that. Oh, hang on, no network here yet. And it would be passing data to my electricity supplier, not the DNO.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Lack of mains

          >I worked with a couple of utilities literally decades ago on automated fault detection and management in different kinds of distribution network

          I also worked on this stuff back in the 1990's, so I've probably over-estimated the rate of progress in this sector.

          Perhaps the removal of the free to the utilities national subscriber fault reporting network (aka phone system) will kick the utilities into action - obviously, they will most probably need to be kicked by Ofgem, who in turn will need to be kicked by UKRN in the first instance...

  8. Charles Godwin

    It may not be that bad. I have VoIP and use an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor) and it provides RJ11 jack with dial tone, which I connect to my house phone circuits.

  9. Timbo

    "Another potential drawback is that the all-digital system won't work in the case of a power outage, as it draws a current from the mains, rather than the telephone exchange itself. In short: anything that relies on a landline, from phone calls to alarms, will briefly cease to function."

    So if you have a local power outage, BT are assuming that customers will call their leccy firm to report the outrage via a mobile, assuming the local mobile phone mast hasn't also been KO'd by the lack of volts?

    And god help you if you have a medical condition requiring an ambulance and the router fails or there's a config issue with the VOIP equipment.

    As someone else commented, a small backup UPS system for the router/VOIP phone would be worthwhile...perhaps new routers could even have a small battery built in to at least allow maybe a 10 minute phone call to be made?

    At least with the analogue system, a standard phone would still work !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My understanding is that the current specs require BT to supply a battery backup unit capable of powering the router/VOIP phone for at least one hour. At the moment this is a separate unit but the thinking is that it'll be built into the ONT for mass rollout.

  10. Jim Willsher

    Honest question: what does it mean for rural exchanges (like the one near me) where everything is copper and nothing is fibre. Will it still be copper to the house, and it's just VoIP from the exchange side of things?

    1. BenDwire
      WTF?

      And another question, what about Exchange Only lines? (i.e. copper straight into a very close exchange, so no cabinets for FTTC) Are they really going to put in FTTP on a one-to-one basis?

      1. Jim Willsher

        Yep that was what prompted me. I’m connected to ESESS which has precisely zero cabinets….

        1. Mike Pellatt

          SOTAP is the answer to your question

          "When it is launched, you will be able to use SOTAP to provide broadband and internet protocol (IP) phone services, because it connects to your exchange infrastructure.

          We’re developing SOTAP to help us withdraw Wholesale Line Rental (WLR). We’re planning to launch it UK-wide by August 2022.

          It will only be for areas where there aren’t any fibre products available. And it won’t include a managed phone service, or any associated calling and network features."

          https://www.openreach.co.uk/cpportal/products/copper/sotap

          1. BenDwire
            Facepalm

            Oh great. Still ADSL then.

            Given that I don't pay line rental for voice services, I can't imagine that SOTAP will be any cheaper, and in reality will have a price hike to cover all the new logos and marketing expenses /s

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            SOTAP?

            Re SOTAP: Has someone been putting something into the water at Openreach HQ?

            "It will only be for areas where there aren’t any fibre products available. And it won’t include a managed phone service, or any associated calling and network features"

            Will there be any maintenance+repair services available for days when it's rained, or when the overhead wires have been damaged by hunters with shotguns?

            What?

            Incidentally, speaking of faults: every DSL 'modem' known to man has stuff in it that can do fault reporting and analysis and maybe even prediction. Line stats can be (and are) routinely exchanged every few minutes between punter's kit and telco's kit - attenuation and SNR, frequency bins, error counts and rates, etc. Unscheduled loss of sync can be reported upwards. Some boxes might even be able to calculate "distance to fault" using DSP techniques already in the silicon, stuff that equates to an instant on site time domain reflectometer. This stuff has been around since the turn of the century.

            How much use is made of all this wonderful information? As far as I can see as an end user in a block of flats where OpenReach engineer visits are so frequent they might as well have a depot next door, zero use is made. Partly the players don't want to use it, and partly the "level playing field" doesn't allow it to be shared between participants.

            It's a miracle it works as well as it does as often as it does.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Honest question: what does it mean for rural exchanges...

      Depends on whether you have a Conservative MP and whether they are also a subscriber on your exchange...

  11. Richard Boyce

    Competition problems

    Will the major telcos take the opportunity to block other specialist suppliers of VoIP service for "security", and try to inhibit switching to a different provider?

    At the moment, if you have an Internet service, you can get digital phone lines with no line rental, low call rates, even free calls to some other VoIP numbers. The telcos are not currently worried by the few geeks that use VoIP for domestic service, but this could change.

    At the moment, for calls not covered by a package, the telcos will charge a connection fee for each call, and have minimum call duration of a few minutes. If you want to dial across the pond, they will purse their lips and say, "Ooh, long distance gov, takes a week to get there by steamboat, so gotta charge you accordingly." They will want to ensure that roadblocks to competition remain, so the existing business models for call charging and line rentals are not undermined.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Competition problems

      Interestingly, it seems OpenReach will be resuming the installation of ONT modems with 4 ports. ie. allow for the single FTTP fibre to concurrently carry to up 4 different services/streams/channels. So I would presume these other VoIP service providers could avail themselves of one of these channels.

    2. Evil Scot

      Re: Competition problems

      Anybody capable of setting up VOIP at home will be capable of bypassing these roadblocks.

      I set DNS on my ATA to not use Vermin's poisoned DNS and hey presto. That was in 2014.

      Now DHCP and DNS are on PiHole.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

    "In December 2015, life for more than 100,000 people in Lancaster reverted to a pre-electronics era. A flood at an electricity substation resulted in a blackout over the entire city that lasted for more than 24 hours. Suddenly people realised that, without electricity, there is no internet, no mobile phones, no contactless payment, no lifts and no petrol pumps. Although these dependencies were not difficult to see, few had thought through the implications of losing so many aspects of modern life at once."

    Report published 2016, freely downloadable from

    https://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/living-without-electricity

    Read it. Think about what it says. Pass it around your organisation, your neighbourhood. And see what precautions YOU can take, because Westminster and the corporates and their low-budget outsourcers sure as hell aren't going to bother.

    Once upon a time there used to be "Civil Contingency" preparations in much of the UK. Time to revive them?

    Then there's the small matter of mobile network congestion. Even without an extended total loss of mains power in a locality, who here has experienced what happens to mobile network connectivity when suddenly loadsofpeople in the same part of the world want to use the network at the same time, e.g. when a busy dual carriageway or motorway suddenly gets blocked, even if it's only for half an hour or so, and everybody wants to use their mobiles at the same time. Been there done that wasn't impressed.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

      You beat me to it with that link - sadly I can only upvote you the once.

      It really is a good read, it's not full of jargon, and there's some really quite funny (if they weren't serious) bits.

      But there are also mentions of things that I suspect few people have thought about. Does your mains water supply need power ? I know mine doesn't as United Utilities have designed the local network to be gravity fed - but in Lancaster they had tower blocks without water as they needed booster pumps to get water to the higher floors. In some places, they water provider relies on pumps to get water into towers, or just to boost the pressure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

        @Simon Hobson

        Glad to be of service but thank them not me (RAE "Living With Electricity" report).

        As you'll see from some of the head in the sand thinking here and doubtless elsewhere, some people out there still don't "get it". Not even after e.g. the events of 9 August 2019 where millions of customers across the UK had their supplies disrupted, including some major infrastructure installations (e.g. electric multiple unit trains):

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49300025

        There's some more formal "analysis" of the August 2019 mess which is publically available, e.g.

        https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/investigation-9-august-2019-power-outage

        It doesn't particularly inspire confidence in the state of the management and operation of today's UK grid. In some cases the technology is there, e.g. "synthetic inertia" to help modern generators+interconnects make more of a very short term contribution to frequency stability. It's just not in use much. In some cases where DC->AC converters are involved, it may not even need much extra hardware and software. Frequency effects and spurious disconnects were a major part of the fun in August 2019.

        I'm not saying everything needs to be able to cope with this kind of thing happening frequently, but some awareness and understanding of the consequences wouldn't be a bad idea. I think the RAE report even mentions asking punters about the "value" of reliable electricity. Doesn't seem to feature much in industry decision making.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

      "...few had thought through the implications of losing so many aspects of modern life at once".

      It's called planning. Our overlords have heard of that.

      No doubt cyber adversaries are considerably more aware of the consequences - they're counting on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

        Heck.

        A global viral respiratory pandemic had been overdue for decades - ask any epidemiologist - but we still weren't prepared for it.

        So chances of preparing for this? zippo.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

          >A global viral respiratory pandemic had been overdue for decades - ask any epidemiologist - but we still weren't prepared for it.

          Well, Matt Hancock was prepared - he had watched Contagion.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

      "And see what precautions YOU can take, because Westminster and the corporates and their low-budget outsourcers sure as hell aren't going to bother."

      Not forgetting the closure of all the coal fired power stations. Plans to close all "fossil fuel" generation over time. Lack of new nuclear power as older nukes are shut down. The fact that wind is less likely at the time of year people need heating and the sun doesn't shine much and there's still little to no storage for any renewables. It ain't all gonna work from electric cars plugged into a "smart" grid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

        The fact that wind is less likely at the time of year people need heating and the sun doesn't shine much and there's still little to no storage for any renewables.

        Storage technology is advancing, and unless you are in the Arctic Circle, solar power operates well even on overcast days, for sufficient hours.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

          "solar power operates well even on overcast days, for sufficient hours."

          Please read the Lancaster report and remove your rose tinted spectacles.

          SoHo-scale solar power might operate a SoHo router and some other low power consumer electronics and probably a decent amount of SoHo LED lighting. Add a Powerwall or equivalent and it might do more too, but it is not yet a serious alternative to grid power for most parts of Western "civilisation".

    4. Caver_Dave Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: "Living Without Electricity" - Royal Academy of Engineering, 2016

      I can assure you that even down at Parish level we do have disaster recovery plans that are checked every year.

  13. Juanguanomo
    Linux

    POTS

    My old copper line already makes for a handy HF receiving antenna of convenience after I've filtered out all the adsl crosstalk and noise. Hope it does't get physically removed any time soon. Not exactly well placed for an antenna farm where I live. If they take it away I'll have to use an online sdr to get my regular fix of Voice of North Korea instead.

  14. a_builder

    OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

    Another El Rag article confusing the basics.

    This one confuses the withdrawal of POTS with withdrawal of copper.

    Not the same thing at all.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

      If you read the article - it was about the withdrawal of copper which is the thing that makes emergency calls etc dependent on mains electricity. Basic telephones connected by copper to the exchange continue to function even if the mains supply to the area is cut. If the direct copper connection to the exchange with its huge batteries is replaced by any other type of connection (fibre, shared coax, wireless etc) then the communication link becomes dependent on mains electricity.

      A repeat of the incident in Lancaster in December 2015 will result in a total loss of communications,(during the Lancaster incident wired phones still worked as the big batteries in the exchange provided the power they needed.). Probably several people would die in such a repeat because they would not be able to summon help.

      Icon for a person that comments on an article without reading and understanding it ===>

      1. Crypto Monad

        Re: OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

        The first paragraph of the article got it wrong in almost every important detail. There is no copper stop-sell in Mildenhall. They are not "also" withdrawing analogue voice; they are *only* withdrawing analogue voice.

        The stop-sell in Mildenhall is much more limited than Salisbury. Copper will remain for ADSL/FTTC connections.

        However, it is certainly true that you will need a UPS to make landline phonecalls during a blackout (if you can't receive a mobile phone signal).

    2. Crypto Monad

      Re: OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

      El Reg has indeed got it wrong here.

      Unlike Salisbury, where they've gone full-on to FTTP, the stop sell in Mildenhall is *not* on copper; it is on analogue voice services only. Copper remains for providing xDSL services, and voice will be carried digitally over that.

      The phasing out of the PSTN (analogue voice) will be complete by 2025, whereas the phasing out of copper has no date set. Openreach's public goal is about 70% coverage by "mid to late 2020's", so there will still be substantial amounts of copper remaining well into the 2030's.

      You can get a more accurate summary at ispreview.co.uk - and from the horse's mouth at Openreach's Mildenhall page.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Crypto Monad (and others): that horse has its head in the sand

        Here are some words of wisdom from the Openreach Mildenhall page:

        "If there is a power cut this will mean – just as if you have a cordless phone today – that you will not be able to make or receive calls.

        Most people in the UK have a mobile phone, so the advice is just as you do today, use this as a backup in case there is a power cut.

        [...]

        If you plug other devices into your phone socket, like fax machines, healthcare alarms, burglar alarms and security systems and text-relay phones, these will also not work over the phone line in a power cut."

        For those who can read, the more detailed implications are detailed in the RAE "Living Without Electricity" report from 2016 mentioned earlier.

        For those who prefer someone else to read it for them so they can Youtube it, Professor Roger Kemp (one of the team that produced the RAE report) has kindly done that - a 40minute lecture on some of the highlights, find it at

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pehBTjB38o

        You probably need to be able to watch *and* listen, for best results.

        It'd be nice to think BT/Openreach will make a better job of Mildenhall and beyond than they did with the abandoned 21CN Voice project. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

      2. jets69

        Re: OMG - El Reg: this is a tech journal

        Technically its switching from circuit switched routing to packet based. It has only been analogue from the premises to the exchange since the last digital exchange was installed some time around the turn of the millennium.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I’m confused now. Apparently the commenters don’t want the industry to press ahead with FTTP, we’re no longer a backwards laughing stock because of our copper network, and we should keep a metallic network and the PSTN forever? I guess they would help BT’s share price, but it’s not the opinion expressed on most articles about U.K. telecoms.

  16. jets69

    UK phone sockets do not use RJ11 there is BT specific one.

  17. Velv
    Mushroom

    By 2025?

    There isn't a whelks chance in a supernova that's achievable

  18. S4qFBxkFFg
    1. Mike Pellatt

      If you can show me the OLT and ONT equipment currently available that supports this technology. And the additional power supply and battery capacity needed in the OLT to supply 10,000+ ONT's. Then I'd say that's a useful comment.

      Until then....

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