back to article Copper load of this: Openreach outlines 77 new locations where it'll stop selling legacy phone and broadband products

BT-owned infrastructure provider Openreach has confirmed plans to stop sales of copper-based phone and broadband services in 77 exchange locations across the UK, affecting roughly 700,000 premises. The “stop-sell” order will come into effect on April 29, 2022. Included in the 77 locations are Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, Hayes …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I haven't had a phone plugged into my landline for around a decade. Not missed it.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      So? Some of us use them every day ...

    2. Danny 14

      but do you have broadband connected to your line? good luck if you want to move house into those areas and want timely broadband. F2P only means you may be in for a long wait for installation.

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Loss of power

    Exchange powered lines are becoming scarce with FTTC.

    Without a UPS in the green box there's every chance that a local power outage will kill your domestic landline now.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Loss of power

      Looks like a case of one step forward and half s step back.

      Still, so long as the beancounters and share holders are happy, it's not as if customers are important is it?

      Oh! Last time I was.in Mildenhall, it was in Suffolk.

      Once again I tried the corrections button but on my phone nothing happens.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Loss of power

        The [Corrections] link is a mailto tag, and should fire up your mail client (if available/configured) with a mail to...

        corrections@theregister.com

        with a subject line of

        [correction] article headline

        and a body containing the url of the article.

        So if you use alternative means to send emails/or there is some issue, then, sending an email to that address with [corrections] and the url plus whatever detail you wish to add should it to the appropriate people.

        There was a comment not long ago that a form based [Corrections] facility is in their list of enhancements...

    2. Commswonk

      Re: Loss of power

      Without a UPS in the green box there's every chance that a local power outage will kill your domestic landline now.

      Phooey. With FTTC a 'phone is powered by the Exchange Battery just as it it always has been. A local power cut may well disrupt local broadband (unless the cabinet is battery - backed) but 'phone services will continue uninterrupted... up to the point the exchange battery is exhausted unless there is a reserve generator on site.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Loss of power

        For the benefit of anyone wondering "how does that work then ?", FTTC works like this :

        Your phone line from the exchange, complete with line power from the exchange batteries, is routed from the green connection box to the FTTC box. In there, it is put through a filter which allows the DC and low frequency (voice) signal through, but blocks high frequency signals. The VDSL kit then adds the high frequency DSL signal to the line, and the whole lot is then routed back to the green cabinet and then out to your house.

        If the power fails in the FTTC cabinet, the "phone line" is still there and it's almost as if there were not FTTC box involved. "Almost", because the line still passes through the filter in the FTTC box.

        It's near enough the reverse of the situation in your own home, where the incoming line has the "phone" and "broadband" split by the filter, with the phone line being routed to whatever phones you plug in - which still work even if you pull the power on your broadband router.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "how does that work then?"

          Surely the handset that gets plugged in needs to have its own battery power though, as the exchange won't want to provide PoF?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "how does that work then?"

            Well the handset doesn't have to be powered. I have a good old-fashioned line-powered handset available for use in just such an emergency. Don't you? You just plug it in to the socket, dial and speak.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: Well the handset doesn't have to be powered.

              Not at the moment. But what we're talking about is what happens in the future when "line-powered" is not a thing anymore.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Well the handset doesn't have to be powered.

                No, what we are talking about is that that is not necessarily a good thing, and in many cases it is demonstrably a bad thing.

            2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: "how does that work then?"

              As I understand it, with FTTP, the provided optical network terminator (ONT) on the outside of your house is powered down the data line from your router that will be inside your house. And the phone line, if there is one, will either be plugged into a digital converter either in the router, or in the termination unit.

              What I've seen has fibre to the optical network terminator, and copper (normally gigabit Ethernet) into the house. The pole-top services are passive optical splitters and combiners that use unpowered frequency division multiplexing and multiple fibres to provide a single frequency fibre connection (or maybe two, one for download, and one for upload), so there is no conductive path to run power down to the ONT, which needs power, and thus needs to obtain it from the house.

              Once we have moved to this model, phones will not work during a power outage unless there is a battery backup unit somewhere for the router and/or the ONT.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when do they start changing users over "for free" like the energy suppliers do for smart meters?

    1. Jon 37

      Later.

      Switching volunteers is easiest. OpenReach have done a bunch of them, for people who wanted FTTP broadband.

      Switching people who are getting a new service anyway is next easiest. They are in contact with their provider to book the install, it's just going to be a slightly more major job. That's where OpenReach are now.

      Switching people who are resigned to it is harder, but still OK. You message them and tell them they need an appointment and they book an engineer.

      Switching people who don't want any of this newfangled Internet stuff is going to be hardest, it will take a lot of persuasion. That's where Smart Meters are right now. (See: All the ads for Smart Meters and how they magically save energy).

      Some people will flat refuse to switch, OpenReach will have to cut them off. That will be a PR nightmare unless OpenReach are careful.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Elon Musk to the rescue

        "Some people will flat refuse to switch, OpenReach will have to cut them off. That will be a PR nightmare unless OpenReach are careful."

        OpenReach just needs to send out the Autopilot-equipped digger. Then "oops, sorry, we can't repair the copper".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're moving house soon

    Good to have a list of places I can cross off my 'possibles'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We're moving house soon

      Why? You realise this is rolling out everywhere in the UK the year after?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're moving house soon

        Yeah, and all the cars on sale by 2030 will be only electric. I'll believe it when I see it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We're moving house soon

          The only possible way that this is going to work is by giving every car an electric motor and a battery that can do a few miles more than the average distance of 20 miles per day.

          Then stick in a petrol (or preferably LPG) generator (not engine) that will generate enough power to sustain cruising at 70mph and put a bit of juice in the battery for when it's doing under 30 mph in a city. That'd work for everybody while making good use of the existing infrastructure that we have.

          Running the entire thing of batteries is certifiably insane. We are 9 years away from the point that they are all supposed to be electric and beyond vague aspirations there is no sign of building the generating capacity required and councils have done nothing whatsoever to provide the widespread charging infrastructure required for the tens of millions of houseowners who live in terraced houses who park somewhere down the road, and literally cannot plug their vehicles into their home mains supply.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: We're moving house soon

            I just read a story today on the Beeb about Cardiff needing 10,000 charging points.

            "The city currently has fewer than 100 charging points and needs about 10,000 in four years."

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: We're moving house soon

      It shouldn't be any problem for most people.

      As I read things, there will still be FTTC available - which is copper to your house. If you are like the many that never plug a phone in then you'll see no difference at all. If you do need a phone service, that will be available, but will have a VoIP to analogue adapter in your home to make it work.

      I haven't seen any technical details, but my best guess would be that they'll split the DSL into a couple of virtual circuits and provide a modem/router that can do the digital-analogue conversion, and prioritise the voice traffic so it will remain steady regardless of how much traffic you put through your internet connection. In practical terms, most users would not be able to tell the difference.

      If there isn't built in provision for it, I suspect a supply of suitable battery backup units will appear to provide medium term backup should the mains go off - at least as long as the FTTC batteries hold up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're moving house soon

        One hour battery backup at most. It'll be fine for minor power cuts, but will be a major problem in a large-scale disaster like a flood or snowstorm. It's typical "good enough" thinking, assuming that the worst case won't happen, because they'll always be able to blame someone else when it does.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: We're moving house soon

          Here in California we're supposed to be self sufficient for a week or more (major earthquakes can bust up a lot of infrastructure). And yet, AT&T doesn't provide the required battery when you "upgrade" your POTS line to what the rubes call "DSL".Most people don't discover that their telephonew doesn't work when the power is out until there is an emergency, and they need it. And of course most Cell Tower batteries doesn't have an emergency generator, and so can only last a few hours in a power failure. Lovely, no?

          I get around this by maintaining two separate telephone bills .. one good, old fashioned POTS line (complete with touch-tone capability ... for now) alongside my more modern and expensive AT&T digital system. Guess which one works without fail in an emergency ... or even when it;s not an emergency, such as when PG&E kills the mains power so it's ill-maintained transmission system won't spark wild fires ... and the power is out for a week, killing Cell Towers after under half a day in some places (including the one on the mountain over my shoulder).

          Don't you just love modern technology? Makes the rich richer, and the rest of us poorer-off.

          Sure, go ahead, call me a neo-luddite. I've been called worse ...

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: We're moving house soon

        I got FTTC a couple of years back, and it made zero difference to the equipment in my house, just made it run a bit faster, because the copper line now runs for about 300 meters to the street-side cabinet rather than 1.5km to to the exchange. FTTP is a different matter.

  5. Cederic Silver badge

    line rental

    So will they finally stop charging line rental then, on a line that you don't get?

    I haven't had a landline for 15 years. That's £2000 I've saved on line rental, and Virgin have benefited because they provided broadband without it.

  6. Detective Emil

    They're sitting on a gold, umm, copper mine

    I wonder if they're planning on pulling that copper up. The current price is pretty juicy.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: They're sitting on a gold, umm, copper mine

      Have you seen the price of steel recently? Also going up rapidly and easy to find just lying about.....

      (Also copper wires are hard to strip, speaking as that apprentice so tasked many years ago).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: They're sitting on a gold, umm, copper mine

        Have you seen the price of lumber recently? Simple things like 2x4s and plywood are four or five times what they cost last year ... Seems that manufacturing all the stuff that makes modern life modern was deemed "unnecessary" in these Covid times ... and I'll bet you a buck that those prices won't be coming down any time soon, regardless of what percentage pf the workforce goes back to work.

        As for that pipeline getting pwned ... They say the price of fuel is going to go up here in California, DESPITE the fact that none of the petroleum products running through that mess even comes close to touching the network that supplies California. In fact, they are predicting that our prices are going to go up higher (as a percentage) than anywhere else in the country! And we are already paying more than anyone else ... Newsom best get his act together or he's going to be out on his ear over this one, even if the population shrugs off everything else (and they will).

    2. the hatter

      Re: They're sitting on a gold, umm, copper mine

      Someone did the maths some years ago of BT's value at the time vs the scrap price of the copper they owned, and the copper of course won. But getting it all (a) out of the ground and (b) minus the insulation takes away far too much, with most of it in such a thin web across pretty literally the entire country.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: They're sitting on a gold, umm, copper mine

        If the quantity is high enough, you can skip the stripping and just throw it all in the melting pot. The crap just burns off. Depending on where in the world you are, you might need some way of filtering the exhaust fumes though.

  7. Jim Willsher

    So 2025 is Openreach's target stop-sell for coper.

    2025 is also the UK Government's target date for 85% of the country to be able to get gigabit broadband.

    Assuming both are using fibre as the medium, what happens to the 15% if they want a new phone line? Think rural here.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      " What happens to the 15%?"

      Smoke signals, cleft stick, pigeons, cocoa tins and string, there are loads of options for those rural customers who make it difficult for phone companies to profit from them.

    2. Mishak Silver badge

      Very rural here...

      And our exchange is one of the ones on the list with a stop date of April 2022. I thought we would never get full fibre.

      My parents are even more remote, and they also now have FTTP.

      I'm guessing BT have been given some more cash...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Additionally, as fibre-based telephony products are powered via the mains, rather than via the telephone exchange, there's a potential for a loss of service during power outages. ®

    This is an account of somebody dying in a lift in China after the power was cut:-

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-35742148

    This currently couldn't happen because of that nice little alarm button in every British lift that uses a landline to sound an alarm; the fitting of which is a legal requirement.

    I have been wondering since the demise of copper was announced if little things like this would actually be replaced because nobody had even started developing replacements. I'm not convinced that anything has changed here; are we now seriously engineering a situation where alarm systems are reliant upon mains power, a decent internet connection and no routing problems etc for things as fundamental as distress systems?

    A steel box inside a reinforced concrete lift shaft can in some cases present a tolerably effective faraday cage that may quite seriously degrade a mobile signal so this should receive at least some thought. :/

    1. Mishak Silver badge

      Have you every needed to use one of those alarms?

      I have. It was answered by a person. I think. The audio was totally impossible to understand. Luckily, the lift started working again about 10 minutes later - but not because I had activated the alarm, as that had cancelled after about 5 minutes with me working out what to try next.

      I suspect they will simply switch to using an IP connection between the lift and the response centre.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have you every needed to use one of those alarms?

        Ok. If you get a unintelligible message from a fixed POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line that you know is the inside of a lift then you still have two points of information.

        1) The location of the line (ie connected to lift X at location Y).

        2) The fact that somebody in the lift has pressed the alarm button.

        The medium is the message.

        Given that a main cause of elevators failing is going to be power loss, i'm sceptical that in any emergency where somebody trapped in a lift wants to use the alarm that it's going to help if it's running on VOIP because you need too much working.

        POTS was introduced in something like 1876; and that's not a typo. In almost 150 years practically every problem has been ironed out, and reliability is nominally 99.999%, with the 0.001% being accounted for largely by diggers etc. You simply need cabling to the endpoint for it to work; and I suspect that in extremis you could eventually attract an irate openreach telephone engineer by repeatedly shorting the cables to do an SOS.

        VOIP is shall we say somewhat less reliable. Endpoints may decide that they won't work until they are patched and brick themselves applying the update, or refuse to pick up their DHCP settings and require TLC from support. Every network switch becomes a piece of crucial infrastructure, and most places don't even have them on UPS's. The internet connection can fail, and remotely hosted VOIP systems tend to occasionally change their IP's and so could be blocked by a firewall. And this isn't even an extensive list of problems; it's a list of problems that I have personally seen!

        There is so much that can go wrong with VOIP that it shouldn't be used for something this safety critical at this early point in it's life, and possibly ever.

    2. jonathan keith

      The short answer appears to be "yes".

      I'm currently trying to understand how we'll transition the fire alarm and warden call systems in the three residential homes I'm involved with - all of which are safety-critical and currently rely on good old analogue telephony. It's... horrendous. And with the imminent demise of exhange-powered phone lines, backup supply is a significant factor.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I wonder if alarm companies are still installing kit that relies on "self powered" POTS lines? I can just imagine an installer turning up at a house or office that no longer has a POTS line and scratching his head :-)

  9. irrelevant

    Landline

    I've got a DECT base station that talks IP. Ported our main BT number to A&A VoIP years ago, on dropping one off the two phone lines (One for dial-up, one to chat on. Remember those days?) so now I can use whatever Internet access I want, and not have to worry about keeping numbers or technology, or even staying in the right part of the country! Not had any issues with call quality or reliability, and it's been totally transparent to callers and family.

  10. Big_Boomer

    Mobile phones are so ubiquitous these days that the landline is all but dead. I only have a landline at all (VOIP via Virgin) because I need to make occasional overseas calls and the package for those is way cheaper than using my mobile. Yes, there are reasons why some people/places might need them, but in most cases it's just people who want to carry on living in the 20th Century. Well, sorry, but no matter how you vote the 20th Century is gone and the 21st Century is all that's available. Welcome to today.

    1. jonathan keith

      You do know that phone lines are used for purposes other than voice calls, some of which are safety-critical, right? Just because you're fortunate enough not to depend on them doesn't mean that many others aren't.

      1. jake Silver badge

        And some voice calls over POTS are safety critical, too. Say, after an earthquake that cuts all power .... even that to cell towers.

    2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      FAIL

      Mains failures kill mobile as well

      The majority of mobile phone masts have either no UPS or only a short term one designed to handle short outages of a few minutes. A prolonged mains failure to an area will kill the mobile phone traffic in that area. The only phone communication with long term operating capacity in the event of mains failure is basic phones connected by copper to a telephone exchange.

      Icon for people who think that mobile phones work when the masts have no power ===>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mains failures kill mobile as well

        Yup, we had a power failure recently and I couldn't report it using my mobile because the mobile service had disappeared. :(

  11. Tartalin

    Whats Actually going to happen

    So everyone is going to switch over to something called SOGEA instead of PSTN and FTTC or FTTP

    The same mechanical set up as most broadband now but the PSTN part will no longer carry voice in any form 36 Months after the initial stop sell or the end of 2025 if the exchange is not brought forward early.

    There is a product called SOTAP (Single order temporary access product) for customers that cannot get SOGEA is WLR3.5 service and will be temp old style access and can support normal service but is only in areas where SOGEA is not being offered i.e the 15% rural or inaccessable.

    All voice service will require being delivered over IP and may be the issue during a power cut and emergency

  12. Tempest
    Happy

    One Small Step . . .

    SaiGon/Ho Chi Minh City is now a fibre domain.

    Every premise, residential or commercial has a fibre line that terminates in district distribution facilities. All communications providers can connect their services to each "last kilometre fibre" from central control locations.

    My residence has two 200MByte InterNet feeds supplied by two competing InterNet providers. The fibre line and the terminating box (user paid) are shared and clearly marked connectors for telephone, cable TV, Data1, Data 2, Audio service are a whiz to connect to. There is a WiFi feature in the box, too, along with Ethernet. I don't subscribe to either cable or telephone services. By providing a 9V DC battery, the unit is grid power independent.

    An installer only appeared once, to run a cable from the floor access point to a neat terminal in our residence.

    Only one thing: Telco's can access the WiFi for their own technicians use if the WiFi feature is activated.

    Mind you, our country cottage some 75 kilometres from the nearest fibre distribution point, also has 100 Mbyte capacity. How is it going in Yorkshire or the Scottish Highlands?

    1. jonathan keith

      Re: One Small Step . . .

      And yet there are people who still insist that communism doesn't work.

      ;o)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: One Small Step . . .

        panem et circenses might work for a while ...

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