Hard selling in the telecoms industry is rampant at the moment and a lot of this appears to be being driven by BT and BT Local Business themselves.

Several of my customers have received communications from BT telling them that ISDN and traditional analogue lines are imminently going to be switched off, they even compare this to the analogue and digital TV changeover.

So what is the truth behind this?

Openreach, (the guys that run the network in the UK and, who are to telecoms what Network Rail are to the rail industry) announced in 2016 that they intend to phase out ISDN lines. ISDN lines are the type of telephone lines that were popularly used over the last twenty years.  This phase-out will be delivered in two stages; Stage 1 will be that from 2020 customers will no longer be able to order new ISDN connections.  Stage 2 focusses on 2025 as the date that Openreach plan to remove the ISDN product from their portfolio.  This is nothing more than the natural removal of a product from the market that is no longer being sold. We have not supplied an ISDN product to a customer in over 18 months!

The bit that understandably we are all more worried about is that Openreach intend to phase out standard analogue lines at the same time and of course, we all use these at the moment to deliver our broadband connections into our homes and businesses.  Openreach are not just going to turn this all off though.  In the transitional period, over the next three years, we will start to see the introduction of SOTAP (Yay, another five-letter acronym!). For those who care about these things, SOTAP stands for Single Order Transitional Access Product and as the name suggests, is a temporary product. It will allow us to use the same piece of copper that comes into our business and home at the moment to carry Internet connections. It just will no longer support phone calls. This product will be with us for as long as it takes for Openreach to deliver FTTP (Fibre TThe Premises) to all of our homes and businesses.  This is no small task and will take several years.

So why are Openreach doing this?

Everyone wants faster, more reliable Internet connections and many are already embracing Voice over IP to deliver our telephony through SIP Trunks (Telephone lines delivered on your Internet connection) and, hosted telephony(renting your Telephone system from a third party).  In order to achieve this Openreach need to stop maintaining the old copper cables that have been in the ground for the best part of 100 years and start focussing on fibre optic-based products.

What should I be doing now?

Absolutely nothing!

Nobody is going to turn off your phone lines; don’t be sucked in by the hard sell.  This change will come but it’s still six years away and Openreach do not even intend to allow us to order SOTAP for another two to three years.  For the next six years you are likely to want to upgrade your telephone system anyway and, when the time comes, you should look to embrace this new technology then.

When the time is right for you then pick up the phone and talk to us. We know what we are talking about and will always stick to the facts and not scare tactics.

Jim

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