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Openreach stop sells are coming – how does that affect me?

Incom-CNS Group Sales Director, Grant Counsell, dispels myths over Openreach’s Stop Sell notices and advises calm planning in response to the end of copper services.

At the end of June, Openreach issued a ‘stop sell’ notice for copper-based telephony services on a tranche of exchanges across the UK. Whilst this is all part of Openreach’s plan to move the UK to ‘full fibre’, it seems to have driven a deluge of quite forceful and scary sounding, emails from our competitors, all along the same lines – act NOW or services to your business may be disrupted.

Whilst I agree that making a plan and acting upon the changes is better done sooner rather than later, there is no cause for panic as it will be a few years yet before current services are affected. My aim here is to explain what Openreach are doing, and the impact on services, in an attempt to cut through the misinformation and provide a realistic and rational point of view from within the industry.

What is happening & when?

Openreach announced back in 2018 that the UK would become ‘fully fibre’, with a plan to switch off all copper-based connectivity by 31st December 2025. Since then, they have announced pilot areas in Mildenhall and Salisbury and recruited 5,000 engineers to upgrade the network. Subsequently, we have seen new data access products become available in different areas across the country, giving customers access to higher bandwidth products and/or different copper-based products that prepare the way for full fibre.

How it works:

  • When 75% of an exchange area can access Full Fibre, Openreach will announce a ‘stop sell’ of copper-based products
  • A stop sell notice is a warning that Openreach will no longer allow the ordering, change or upgrade of copper-based products after a fixed 12 month period
  • Stop sells cover any product based on copper wires and will include analogue lines, ISDN lines, ADSL, FTTC and GFast products – including any changes and upgrades to these services
  • From now until September 2022 a roll out of exchanges will have stop sell notices issued
  • By September 2023, the plan is that no copper-based product will be available to order

To be clear – an Openreach stop sell will not affect any installed copper-based service until the copper network is switched off entirely at the end of 2025. However, it will mean that no changes or upgrades are available once the stop sell notice expires.

Plan, don’t panic

My point is, there is no need to panic. However, I do not advocate waiting until the last minute to make the change to digital services, especially when many customers can reduce their costs and gain benefits.

There are millions of lines and services connected to the network in the UK that are going to be affected and we expect there to be a large proportion of businesses who will wait as long as possible before making the switch to being fully digital. We also foresee there being issues within the network where some providers may not be able to support last minute requests.

I believe that those businesses able to act sooner will benefit from a better, more efficient, changeover experience and will be at an advantage over those organisations who are slower to react. Customers who are not in an area where full fibre is available can still plan and make changes so that the transition is simplified when the stop sell notice is issued for your area.

So, what’s the plan?

Business lines

If your business lines are currently analogue or ISDN, this should be your main focus. Choosing the right alternative requires significant thought and consideration as to what is best for your business. Current, copper-based lines can be migrated to one of two main IP based services, SIP Trunks or Cloud Telephony, which have been around for a long time and usually deliver a healthy return on investment. So, whilst this move needs the most planning, it is also the area where the most benefit is available for your business and it provides a great opportunity to streamline services, make savings and increase efficiency.

SIP Trunks deliver cost savings as the trunks are generally cheaper per channel than traditional copper-based lines and each line comes with an inclusive call package offering lower usage charges. Most customers with a reasonably modern telephone system can add SIP as a straightforward upgrade. SIP is cost effective and simple to implement but it also delivers additional features including business continuity or disaster recovery options, cloud-based call queuing and other advanced features. SIP delivers most functionality at a lower cost.

Cloud Telephony also gives users access to more features and is a popular way for businesses to deliver IP telephony solutions to support their staff and customers. In today’s working environment, where remote working is much more prevalent, Cloud Telephony can extend your business communications to any user on pretty much any device, anywhere in the world.

Other considerations

Data access

For most areas of the UK, current ADSL, FTTC and GFast Internet Access products can be changed to a SoGEA product. SoGEA removes the analogue telephone line number, delivering the underlying copper and data access product as a single service. This is basically a stepping-stone to the full Fibre to the Premises products which will be available when the roll out is complete. Migrating from SoGEA to FTTP is then a simple change when the time comes

Additional analogue-based connections

Other serviceswhich will be impacted, and you may have overlooked (these may not form part of your existing contract with your telephony provider):

  • Fax lines can be migrated to a fax to email service or by installing a SIP based service compatible with your telephone system or via an adapter
  • Alarm lines with Redcare need to be changed to a digital service that uses a GSM mobile SIM card
  • Franking machines and modem lines can be replaced with a SIP based service
  • Direct analogue lines used for private numbers or home phone lines for remote workers can be moved to a cloud-based service with calls and voicemail delivered to a mobile phone app, by adapting the existing analogue phone

As the project gathers pace and the stop sell notices and the number of exchanges (and therefore businesses) affected increases, I’m sure there will be further services impacted that we have not considered here.

To summarise

  1. A stop sell does NOT mean that the existing service is going to be switched off immediately
  2. You need to plan, but you still have time to consider your options and make the right move for your business
  3. Don’t panic!

Find out more…

More information is available on Openreach’s website along with links to the expected timeframe for exchange areas. We have summarised the information on our website and regularly update this page.

Our team are experts in advising customers across the UK on their digital transformation journey. We can guide you through the options for each of the services that need to be changed and help you to make a plan to identify the actions required against a timeline that is right for you.

Get in touch

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We pride ourselves on offering businesses award-winning customer service and first-class advice on every aspect of business communications. We would love to learn more about you and your specific communications needs, so please get in touch.

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