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Is the UK really ready to ditch its traditional phone network?

13 July 2015

Entanet, the leading wholesale communications provider, has questioned whether the timer should be put on Britain’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) system, following reports that BT has asked Ofcom to lift the obligation that it continues to place on the company to provide a traditional copper-based phone network, as well as running a digital system.

BT is asking for a ‘sunset clause’ that will effectively allow BT to press on with its plans to switch all users to IP-based voice over the next decade, while allowing the older analogue network to be gradually shut down and the focus shifted to supporting a single network infrastructure. BT has also implied that this would enable further investment into the advancement of broadband and connectivity services.

But Entanet, while acknowledging the merits of the argument, also sees major hurdles. In an article on its blog site, Paul Heritage-Redpath the company’s Product Manager says: “Whilst we understand BT’s intentions to move to a newer technology and applaud its plans for investment into future-proof networks and infrastructure, we’re not convinced that it will be plausible to fully remove the existing PSTN infrastructure within the next ten years.”

Potential problems include the fact that there may still be a number of areas in which broadband connectivity will remain quite poor, even a decade from now, and complications with emergency services. In addition, such a move would almost certainly prompt a backlash from customers who will resent being forced to have (and pay for) an Internet connection simply to make and receive voice calls.

The article can be read in full: Is the UK ready to ditch its traditional phone network