Scare stories are headlining the death of PSTN as BT commences consultation. The change is way overdue but what is the truth?
Reports of The Death of PSTN Are Greatly Exaggerated
It is true that BT wants to close the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and move all phone calls over to voice-over-IP via its national fibre broadband network instead. They want to make the change by 2025. This would result in the removal of old PSTN equipment from exchanges and the close down of the residual network. It would also close down an agreement (WLR) with other telecommunication companies who resell PSTN to end customers.
This is not a done deal as far as BT is concerned. They are planning to consult with the other telecommunication companies now and then presumably start discussions with Ofcom.. The start of this consultation process is the spark that has ignited the headlines about the death of PSTN.
An Openreach spokesperson said: "In May, we'll consult with industry around the process of withdrawing WLR and related products.
"This follows plans by BT to upgrade its customers from analogue (PSTN) to digital (all IP) telephone services by 2025.
"We'll be working with our communication provider customers over the coming months as we consider the move to IP voice services - where broadband rather than voice becomes the primary service."
What Does This Mean For Landline Users?
It is clearly sensible to close down the PSTN – it is long past it’s sell by date. However, the commercial ramifications will have a long way to go before they are agreed. It is not clear what the position will be in 2 years time even less in 7 years.
End users are not going to be able to live in the 20th century world for ever – even if they want to.
The advantages of VoIP are simply overwhelming and BT wants to provide them to you. It is difficult to foresee a world where BT will be able to close down the competition and so for now the status quo remains.
David Hill, May 2018
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