OpenReach, the UK’s largest phone and broadband network provider, is preparing for the transition from the old copper phone network (PSTN) to a new ‘Digital Voice’ alternative by 2025. However, some customers are yet to upgrade, prompting OpenReach to introduce measures to encourage action. To prompt customers to upgrade, OpenReach plans to “throttle” broadband speeds and limit phone calls. The company is conducting trials in two areas of the UK, including the slowing down of internet speeds and limiting of phone calls.
OpenReach notified its Communications Providers customers last year that the analogue services would be withdrawn in the trial areas by 19 April 2023, but the deadline has been extended to October 9, 2022, to test the new service measures. The trials are reported to have been running since December 2020 and May 2021 respectively to test a set of processes for upgrading the UK’s decades-old analogue network to new digital products and services.
For those remaining on the legacy network in the test areas who don’t have an agreed exemption, OpenReach will introduce a reduction in broadband download speeds to around 2Mbps from April 24, followed by a barring of outbound calls from June 5. The changes will be introduced in batches to better manage customer responses. OpenReach says that it’s still on track for the UK wide switch off at the end of 2025.
While the switchover to digital promises to deliver a more flexible, reliable, and scalable communications service, many businesses are still experiencing frustrations with slow broadband speeds and lack of reliable service in rural areas. At the current time, the UK is lagging behind in terms of the 5G network, and many rural areas have no reliable broadband anyway. However, on the positive side, OpenReach has allowed time to conduct enough tests and trials to hopefully iron out any issues and ensure a smooth switchover from analogue that minimizes costly disruption to businesses.
ABCOM can help businesses transition to the new digital service, and moving sooner rather than later is a great reason to review current contracts.