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Government to set date for copper phone lines to be switched off

The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, has confirmed that a date for the switch off of copper cable phone lines is to be set, and this will be determined by Government intervention, if the telecoms industry does not set it itself. There is the possibility that the date will be set at the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review in late July and the idea of a switch off by 2025 was touted in the National Infrastructure Commission report last week. SEE HERE

There are concerns that a full copper to fibre switchover could increase average consumer bills by around £5 per month and the majority of current fibre customers in the UK are on fibre-to-the-cabinet services of which copper cabling provides the connection from the home to the street cabinet.

Openreach’s Fibre First programme (MORE INFO) is targeting a rollout of full fibre to 10 million homes by 2025 with an ultimate goal of providing ultrafast to the majority of the UK homes and businesses by 2033. However copper may still need to be used by premises making use of Gfast technology which has been rapidly deployed to deliver ultrafast speeds, so it seems any date for copper switch off will need to be assessed with this in mind. A wider consultation has begun with UK ISPs and communications providers for a switch off of the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) services that allow providers to manage the customer copper line rental, with a migration to VoIP on the way.

The next ten years looks increasingly busy with wide-ranging change in the infrastructure and wholesale arms of the communications industry to meet the 2033 full fibre target.

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