It is now over a year since we started talking about the withdrawal of copper-based services by Openreach. At that time, many businesses were sceptical about the reality of the switch-off and the validity of the commitment to have fibre connections in place by 2025.
Life has now moved on and Openreach is busy preparing exchanges and laying fibre. In fact, the switch-off is now so imminent that in some exchange locations, you will not be able to purchase copper-based products, such as analogue or digital phone lines, or internet connectivity, including traditional broadband or fibre to the cabinet high speed broadband, after December this year.
December 5th marks the “stop-sell” date for the first three exchange areas with a further 118 exchange areas hitting the same milestone by June 2021. Couple that with the recent announcement of another 67 exchange areas identified and you soon get a picture that this is really going to happen.
Openreach has recruited an army of apprentices to ensure that they have the manpower to deliver on their commitment and they are currently hitting an average build rate of 34,000 premises a week. This is expected to reach 3,000,000 per year. The initial target to have 4.5 million premises completed by March next year looks to be certain to be achieved.
So that’s the numbers, but what does it all mean?
Put simply, when an exchange area hits 75% completion for fibre services a “stop-sell” noticed is issued. This means copper-based services, such as PSTN, ISDN and ADSL, cannot be sold or varied. Two years after that date, existing services are withdrawn. This will begin in some areas in 2022. Businesses must be aware that they will need to sign up to a fibre-based product in order for their phone lines and internet to work once this happens.
This will put tremendous strain on providers to deliver these services and demand may result in longer than usual lead times if businesses wait until the last minute to make their move.
My advice is to plan your strategy now. Look at what services you need to migrate and order in plenty of time to ensure continuity of service.
Moving to fibre also opens up many business benefits, such as the use of cloud-based applications and the advantage of fast reliable internet. If you wish to discuss any of above, please contact us.