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It’s the end of the line: the WLR stop sell has begun

Steve Blackshaw
IP Migration Director, BT Business

In 2017, Openreach announced it would decommission the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And by 2027,
the PSTN will be retired.

This necessary step - backed by the government and the channel - means that every phone line in the UK will be digital, using Internet Protocol (IP) technology rather than the traditional PSTN. To support the transition away from PSTN, Openreach has stopped selling new Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products across the UK from 5th September 2023.


Over the last six years we, along with the rest of the channel, have been helping you to move your customers away from legacy systems and towards IP solutions to ensure the country remains connected. But what does the WLR stop sell mean, and how can you ensure your customers are prepared?

What does the stop sell mean?

Openreach will restrict the supply of new WLR products and place limitations on existing WLR services in parts of the UK. The stop sell will apply to any broadband product that is associated with a WLR PSTN line, so it’s important businesses check their connectivity infrastructure if they are unsure.


This means that where a location has access to Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) or Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA), there will be no new supply of other legacy products. If a premise does not have access to either, Single Order Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SoADSL)will be made available until newer solutions are on hand. In certain parts of the UK, the stop sell is already successfully in place as part of Openreach’s FTTP Priority Exchange Programme.

Why does this matter?

The WLR stop sell is a key component in the UK’s journey to its digital ‘switch on’ in 2027. Investment from the government and channel companies will ensure future-ready networks that lay the foundations for how the country communicates, delivers public services and does business.


Ultimately, the PSTN switch-off ensures the UK is in line with other countries such as the Netherlands, Estonia and Germany who have made the move to an all-IP future and are reaping the benefits of faster and more advanced technology infrastructure.


Luckily, many businesses have already recognised the urgency to transition to IP networks. Those that haven’t can continue using legacy lines, however, if these degrade, communications providers won’t be able to replace them like-for-like, which means organisations will be forced to upgrade or risk continuity. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity, great customer services and minimal disruption to business activity, businesses must consider migrating now.


Whilst everyone in the channel industry knows about the stop sell and the PSTN switch off, many outside of it don’t. The WLR stop sell bestows communications providers with a great opportunity to offer their expertise to customers, increase revenue and attract new business.

What do you need to do?

The WLR stop sell and the wider move to IP technology will affect all devices that are currently plugged into the analogue telephone socket. This includes equipment that is supplied to your customers too. If your customers haven’t already, it’s important to consider what alternatives they can move to and how you can help them navigate the change.


In preparation for the move to IP, it’s important to understand where your customers are on their migration journey and whether they might have vulnerabilities that need to be considered. You should ask:


  • Are you ready for the migration to all-IP?
  • Do you have a migration plan in place?


For customers that don’t have a migration plan in place, it’s crucial that you can provide counsel and recommendations that enable them to move to all-IP seamlessly.


Some businesses may have particular use cases that could make moving to all-IP more complex, which is why we’ve been sharing our best all-IP hacks to ensure you’re ready for any scenario. From ensuring you get the right tech for the right customer every time to porting numbers like a pro and mastering migrations, we want our customers to succeed.


At BT Wholesale, we want to make sure you have the right tools to service your customers during the transition to all-IP. If you have any questions about the WLR stop sell or the journey to 2027, get in touch with your account manager to find out how BT Wholesale can help you.

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