At BT, our expert teams are working with our channel partners and B2B customers alike to embrace modern, digital alternatives and break their dependence on aging analogue tech. However, we know there will be some consumers, businesses and public sector organisations in need of an interim solution to keep them connected as they move between the PSTN and fully digital networks.
This includes landline-only and voice-only customers without broadband, and businesses with unique edge use cases where a modern data access network simply isn’t compatible with their existing equipment or comparable products on the market today. For example, use cases that rely on old copper lines to power devices for telemetry and monitoring at reservoirs. ‘Power down the line’ is something that just isn’t possible – or necessary – with modern fibre optic networks.
As communications providers, our priority between now and December 2025 is to move customers off the old analogue network and onto IP Connectivity. But we must also support those customers who have no other option – to help them bridge the gap. Any technical stop-gap would be short-term and tactical rather than a long-lasting strategic move, but nonetheless, we must plan ahead.
It's for this reason that BT is working on a solution to help keep customers and qualifying edge use case equipment connected, whilst moving them off the PSTN. It’s designed to provide interim connectivity, but only when there is no other option available. Customers relying on this product will need to find an alternate solution by 2030, or upon SOTAP (Single Order Transition Access Product) closure, whichever is sooner.
We’re now in the early stages of development of this interim solution. As well as firming up the product design, we also need time to work through the commercial arrangements before developing our systems and processes. That said, we’re hopeful we’ll be able to say more in the coming months, with the product coming to market in late 2024.
In the meantime, we’re urging communications providers to register their interest for this temporary pre-digital phone line product, so we can forecast how best to scale it out across the entire UK. This will not only streamline the technical logistics, but it will also help level the playing field across the entire industry by helping others to move their customer base off the PSTN by 2025.