The commercial availability of SOGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access), a new wholesale service launched by Openreach, means that CPs can sell standalone broadband lines without a traditional landline attached, with VoIP services available as an optional extra.
Openreach hopes that the launch will 'mark the beginning of the end for the analogue telephone network', which is now a matter of urgency.
The 2025 turn-off date already means that the industry is required to switch circa 50k lines a week, every week, between now and the deadline, which Openreach says is a 'mammoth task'.
But the BT Group business claims that the launch of SOGEA on March 3rd is a 'big step towards the task of switching some 15 million homes and businesses across the UK from traditional analogue voice services to a an all IP network'.
"It is hoped this full commercial launch will give the communications industry confidence to accelerate the migration to IP services in earnest," said James Lilley (pictured), Openreach’s Head of Copper & Service Products.
"It’s not only voice, there is an array of other services that use analogue signals, everything from security alarms to bus stops, cash machines, elevators, traffic lights and even sluice gates in rivers and canals."
The extent of the task is also reflected in the high number of PSTN-only point of sale machines, of which there are circa 500,000. And there is up to one million PSTN-based telehealth devices in the UK.
SOGEA will be made available across Openreach's existing FTTC footprint covering 27.7 million premises.
Openreach is running two testbed trials – in Salisbury and Mildenhall - enabling CPs and special service providers to test new products and work out how best to migrate people to the new service.
The term SOGEA relates to FTTC/VDSL2 based broadband services, and will be available in the same geographic areas as FTTC, offering a similar service to to GEA-FTTC.
There is also the SOGEA-based SOGFast service, or G.fast version, expected in May this year; while the variant for ADSL2+ lines is known as SOADSL.
A Single Order Transitional Access Product (SOTAP), planned for September 2021, will be targeted at areas where Openreach fibre is not available.