PSTN Performance Set to Drop in New Openreach Trials

Openreach has announced plans to reduce the performance of analogue phone lines in an attempt to encourage lagging businesses to upgrade to digital alternatives through their comms provider.

Trials are set to take place in Salisbury, Wiltshire and Suffolk, with plans of expanding these to other areas of the UK. The trails will see restrictions introduced that prevent outbound telephone calls and limit broadband speeds as a way of encouraging customers to take action and upgrade their services. Calls to emergency services will be excluded from the trials.

Openreach is continuing to work with communication suppliers to migrate their customers to digital technologies before the 2025 switch-off deadline when BT Group intend to retire the analogue PSTN system. Openreach has already introduced stop-sell policies in the majority of UK cities, meaning comms suppliers can no longer sell new analogue lines to businesses operating on the outdated system.

James Lilley, director for managed customer migrations, Openreach, said, “With the deadline for retiring analogue services approaching, we’re working closely with service providers to migrate their customers smoothly and safely off the old analogue network.

“Our trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall have been a great testing ground to identify and iron out issues, and we’ve already managed to upgrade the vast majority of customers in those areas successfully.

“Having said that, a small minority of customers are yet to upgrade despite several attempts by their service provider to contact them, so we’re planning some gentle measures which will nudge them to contact their provider and have a conversation about their future service.”

Openreach said that by “adjusting the performance of the remaining analogue services”, customers in the trial areas will be prompted to contact their provider and upgrade their line.

Openreach notified communication providers in January of last year to inform them that analogue services would be withdrawn in the trial areas by 19th April 2023, but that deadline has now been extended to 9th October to test the new reduced service trials.

If trials prove to be successful, Openreach will look to use them to help providers prepare for the UK wide switch off in December 2025.

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