BT Wants Ofcom To Let It Plan For Analogue Phone Switch Off

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BT tells TechWeekEurope it has no immediate plans to switch off traditional phone network, but wants regulation to let it plan for an IP-based future

BT has denied reports it has immediate plans to shut down its traditional phone network, only that it wants Ofcom to loosen regulation so the telecoms provider can better compete with over-the-top (OTT) communications providers like WhatsApp and Skype which offer free VoIP calls.

The company plans to migrate customers to a new IP-based system by 2025, operating on a converged fibre, copper and mobile network. However the current regulations require it to continue to maintain the traditional telephony network so long as customers demand it.

BT insists it merely wants the ability to plan for the end of its public switched telephone network (PTSN), rather than waiting for it to die out and wait for the regulation to provide such scope.

No immediate plans

© Jan Schuler - Fotolia.comOfcom is set to embark on a once-in-a-decade review of the UK communications market, a process that will take into account ongoing consolidation in the industry and the growth of OTT services, and has suggested deregulation in some areas may be possible.

“BT believes all IP services will be used nationwide by 2025 and we think Ofcom’s review is an opportunity to roll back obsolete rules in this area to create a level playing field,” a spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “Regulation has not kept up with the massive growth in competition and rapid pace of technology change over the last decade, whilst there are many overlaps between British and European laws which could be removed and simplified.

“Such measures would improve efficiency, stimulate competition, and encourage investment in the UK’s connected future.”

BT’s rivals are taking a keen interest In Ofcom’s review, with TalkTalk arguing that Openreach, the BT division responsible for managing its network, should be made a completely separate entity so all players can compete on a level playing field.

However Openreach CEO Joe Garner says the significant investments currently being undertaken by the likes of Virgin Media, TalkTalk and others are signs of a competitive market and BT’s own expenditure on fibre infrastructure would have been difficult if it and Openreach were fully separate entitities.

“It’s a market that’s working very well,” he said last month. “I think the case against [breakup] needs to be made.”

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