17th May 2024

PSTN Update

BT published their full year results where there was a reference that they intend to delay the closure of its PSTN network until the 31st January 2027 (end of page 4). Openreach has responded in kind to CPs indicating that WLR services will be also withdrawn around this new date.

This is a disappointing step but one that has not been unexpected. We understand that further news will be released about this next week, but we have already been asked for our comment from some of the trade press.

Please see below a statement from our Chair, Eli Katz:

"Comms Council UK is disappointed but not surprised about BT's announcement around the shift in deadlines surrounding the closure of its PSTN network -- or more specifically the cessation of WLR and ISDN services by the end of 2025. This is hugely frustrating, given the investment into replacement products and services and the communications with customers that our members have already undertaken to align with BT Group’s previously communicated plans.

This project is naturally a huge challenge for all of industry. Comms Council UK has been calling for more coordination and support from Government and Ofcom to support this shift for a number of years now. Resting the communications plan solely on the industry has inevitably led to confusion, as customers need clear and aligned messaging to provide sufficient understanding and reassurance on this major shift. 

We will continue to work with the various industry groups to help spread the message. There are clear benefits and opportunities for both customers and the broader economy of moving to an all-IP world of communications. We want to ensure this transition does not slip any further and provides those clear benefits to UK plc."

Comms Council UK will be discussing this delay at our next bilateral meeting with Ofcom as well as liaising with the Government on the issue. We will also look to review and update our guidance on this matter.

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