Openreach calls on UK businesses to check how they’re connecting ahead of the switch from analogue to digital
By December 2025, the current analogue phone network will reach the end of its life
Openreach is calling on UK businesses to start planning for life without the analogue phone network, by conducting an audit of their systems and devices.
By December 2025, the Public Switched Telephone Network (or PSTN) will have reached the end of its life and everyone will have been upgraded to a new digital network. That means over the next four years, more than 14 million traditional lines across the UK will be upgraded to new digital services, which will provide everyone with a faster and more reliable service. In businesses and organisations, a range of systems can be reliant on phone lines, such as alarm services, lifts, payment card readers and even medical equipment. All of these will need to be considered before the upgrade.
In order to understand the needs of their specific organisation, Openreach is encouraging businesses to conduct a thorough review of all the current devices that rely on their phone lines or the phone lines of their customers. This will make sure they’re prepared for the logistical challenges that come with the upgrade.
Listed below are the simple steps businesses can take to conduct the audit:
- Make a list of all the devices you currently have plugged into your master socket and any extensions in the premises
- Speak to your service provider (the company you pay your phone or broadband bill to) and the suppliers of your hardware devices to check how these will work when you’re upgraded to digital phone lines
Over the next couple of years, organisations will be encouraged to upgrade voluntarily by their service providers – but conducting an audit now will ease this process and make sure there is no disruption in service. This is particularly important for organisations in key national infrastructure sectors such as Chemicals, Civil Nuclear, Communications, Defence, Emergency Services, Energy, Finance, Food, Government, Health, Space, Transport and Water, which are necessary for the UK to function.
Businesses can also sign up to Openreach’s ‘Call Waiting List’, which the company will use to keep businesses informed on the project, offering tips and advice on the move from analogue to digital.
To retire the analogue phone network by the end of 2025 an average of 50,000 analogue lines will need to be upgraded to digital every week. The ‘Call Waiting List’ will provide bespoke advice for businesses of different sizes, in different sectors and with different needs so they know how and when they need to take action. This is particularly important for vital CNI (critical national infrastructure) organisations, to make sure the upgrade can go ahead with minimal disruption for the wider public.
James Lilley, director of ALL-IP at Openreach said: “Ahead of the switch from analogue to digital phone lines, it’s crucial that businesses understand their current systems and the implications of the shift. This upgrade will provide the nation with faster, more reliable services and will allow devices to become more connected, providing UK industry with a framework from which it can develop innovative emerging technologies. Taking these simple steps now will make the process of upgrading much smoother.
“For those businesses that want to understand more, we’d encourage them to sign up to our ‘Call Waiting List’, which will provide organisations with regular updates about our activities and the potential implications on their operations, as well as guidance and examples of how they can make the transition a smooth one.”
Across the UK, Openreach looks after 192 million kilometres of network cable, 110,000 green cabinets, and 4.9 million telephone poles and junction boxes.
In a typical year, more than 9.9 million engineering jobs are carried out by the company’s 35,000 engineers, many of them in extremely remote and rural locations.
The company has also launched a new dedicated area of its website focused on the digital upgrade.
Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.
We’re more than 35,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.
Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.
We work on behalf of more than 665 communications providers like BT, SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen, and our broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 31.8m premises.
Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £15 billion into our network and, at more than 190 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,798 times.
Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re making progress towards our full fibre optic network target to reach 25 million premises by December 2026. Research shows a nationwide Full Fibre network could potentially provide a £59bn boost to UK productivity.
To help build the new fibre network and deliver better service across the country – we’ve created and filled more than 9,000 apprenticeship roles in the last two years and we’re recruiting another 1,000 trainee roles in Openreach in 2021. We’re also building greener – we operate the UK’s second largest commercial fleet and want to help lead the transition to electric vehicles, with a target to transition our fleet to being electric in 2030.
Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed unit of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2021, we reported revenue of £5,244m.
For more information, visit www.openreach.co.uk