In December 2020 we began to discuss the long-term handover architecture of the Openreach network with Communications Providers (CPs). We highlighted the opportunity for Openreach to exit exchanges that will no longer be needed to support FTTP, FTTC or Ethernet services. We set out an ambition to exit 100 exchange buildings by December 2030, and a large majority of the remaining 4,500 non-handover exchanges in the early 2030s.
By exiting exchanges, we see an opportunity for Openreach and CPs to consolidate infrastructure, reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.
A key goal and priority for Openreach is to ensure that all customers are migrated safely and with minimal disruption. Openreach is running a pilot to help us develop and test the processes we need to achieve this goal.
The Openreach Network Today
Openreach’s exchange footprint is a legacy of the original Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) rollout, which began over a century ago. Openreach leases space in c. 5,600 BT exchanges to provide services to CPs, and CPs can interconnect at any of these exchanges to pick up traffic.
Today we use c. 1,000 exchanges - Openreach Handover Points (OHPs) – to provide nationwide coverage of fibre broadband services (FTTC, FTTP and Gfast). The remaining 4,600 exchanges are used to provide ADSL broadband and “legacy” voice services (WLR, MPF and SMPF). Most are also used to provide Ethernet or other leased line services.
For over a decade, CPs have been migrating broadband customers from copper-only ADSL broadband (served from the local exchange) to fibre-based VDSL broadband (FTTC), served from an OHP exchange. Over 60% of Openreach lines are now provided using FTTC.
The PSTN platform will be closed in December 2025, as a result Openreach products such as WLR3 will be discontinued. This is leading to widespread adoption of IP Voice, and supporting the migration from legacy voice (using WLR and MPF) to IP-based voice over SOGEA and FTTP. We expect around 15m lines to move to our SOGEA and FTTP products as part of this migration. As with the continuing growth of FTTC, these changes are happening across the UK.
FTTP Build - Our goal is to reach 25 million homes and businesses by 31 December 2026
We believe that everyone deserves the best possible broadband connection wherever they are in the UK – and we aim to deliver full fibre as quickly and as widely as possible, whilst making sure everyone goes home safe and well every day.
Exchange Exit Pilot 4 May 2022 – 28 March 2025
The overall objective is to exit five child exchanges (see table below)
A priority for Openreach in this pilot is to ensure all customers are migrated safely and with minimal disruption from the child exchange to the parent exchange. The pilots will help us develop and test the processes that we and industry will need to underpin to achieve this goal.
We will engage with our CPs, their third-party integrators (TPIs) and resellers as appropriate, and wider stakeholders including industry associations and Special Service providers, in order to build interlocked migration plans, the operational enablers, processes and Product notification periods to facilitate exchange exit.
We have five pilot exchanges, all of which will be ‘child’ exchanges.