Retiring our copper network 

As we start to roll out our ultra-reliable, Ultrafast Full Fibre network, there are a few things you need to know

We’re rolling out Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband to 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026, and we’re doing it town by town and city by city. This new digital network is the biggest upgrade to broadband and telephone lines.

What is Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband?

Our new Ultrafast Full Fibre network connects homes and businesses across the UK directly to our exchanges with a single pure fibre cable. It will give speeds up to 10x faster than current technologies, have 70-80% fewer faults than our current technology that relies on a mix of fibre cables and copper cables leaving you with no more buffering or downtime, and future proof the nation for decades to come.

We now send as much data every 10 minutes over the internet that was produced from the beginning of time to 2003 and it’s only increasing – so we need a network that can cope. 

What are the benefits?

With Full Fibre you'll be able to stream 8k TV or ultra HD on multiple devices all at the same time without buffering or interruptions. Working from home will be a breeze, enabling a million people to return to work and help the environment by saving 230 million commuting trips too. Increased reliability will give peace of mind to vulnerable and elderly people who need to be able to make emergency calls. And cheaper and faster delivery of public health care, education and other services will benefit communities and societies as a whole.

And it’s not just great broadband…

With Full Fibre broadband, you’ll also get cutting edge voice technology that will mean that rather than your phone calls using the traditional telephone network, they’ll use the broadband network – just like we’re used to with other Voice Over IP (or VOIP) services such as Skype, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime. You’ll get a digital phone line as standard when you upgrade to Ultrafast Full Fibre.

Turning off the old copper network

Once we’ve rolled out Full Fibre into an area, it doesn’t make sense for us to keep lots of different old technologies running – it’ll be very expensive, replacement parts are no longer being made, and it won’t allow us to push forward with our plans to give the UK world class connectivity as quickly as we’d like. So, we’ve laid out a plan on how and when we’re going to be switching off our old copper based network and what this means for you:

 

Key points to know

  • When 75% of the homes and businesses connected to a particular exchange can get Full Fibre you won’t be able to buy our old copper products if Full Fibre is available at your premises, this includes Gfast, Superfast Fibre and Standard Broadband. 
  • This applies to anyone who's signing up to a new contract, whether you're switching, upgrading or re-grading.  If you're out of contract and already on a copper product, you may be able to continue your existing copper-based services in special circumstances - speak to your communications provider if you're not sure.
  • We’ve already stopped selling copper products in Salisbury, Wiltshire and  have announced a further 378 locations, where we’ll stop selling copper products between now and August 2022. From September 2023 we'll only provide digital phones across the UK. 
  • Some communications providers may choose to impose this sooner, so you might see this reflected in their product offerings.  We recommend that you check what's available on their website.
  • If you're not able to get Ultrafast Full Fibre at your premises you won't be impacted, and will still be able to keep your existing copper product until it's available.
  • If you have a good reason not to make the move - there may be special exceptions such as if you're a vulnerable customer or have critical equipment that might not work. If you think this applies to you, you should check with your service provider to check what's the best option for you.

We've also been talking a lot about switching off copper with industry at events. Here's a video from our recent Openreach Presents: The UK Digital Upgrade event from our Chief Strategy Officer, Richard Allwood: