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New BSG Report: Preparing for the UK’s all-IP future

  • The UK is moving to an all-IP (internet based) network for voice services
  • The current analogue system, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), will come to the end of its life in the mid-2020s with transition also needed to prepare for our full-fibre future
  • As well as providing voice services, many other applications, such as social care and security alarms, use the PSTN
  • The report provides lessons from four international case studies which are further along their migration path, giving evidence on how the UK can prepare for a successful and seamless migration from the PSTN to all-IP networks.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) has published a report on “Preparing the UK for an All-IP future: experiences from other countries”. It outlines the lessons the UK can learn from four international case studies as we migrate from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to all-IP voice services and networks.

The PSTN provides voice and some data services within the UK. It is nearing the end of its life and is increasingly expensive to maintain. A move to all-IP networks lowers costs, brings additional benefits to voice services and helps prepare for the eventual retirement of copper networks – a necessary move as we forge our full-fibre future.

The migration is necessary but raises two particular challenges. The first is the continued provision of voice services, in particular, resilient access to emergency services in the event of a mains power failure which is especially important for the vulnerable and those who are landline-only users. The second is around the data services that use the PSTN. Some of these will not be compatible with an all-IP system as they rely on the analogue capabilities of the old network.

In order to ensure that the UK’s migration is as seamless as possible, the BSG commissioned Plum Consulting to analyse four international case studies. Germany, France, Switzerland and New Zealand were chosen due to the different stages of their migration and their differing regulatory structures.

Guidance on how to communicate and protect vulnerable consumers who may be particularly dependent on voice services is a key feature of the report. As the migration will be led by individual communication providers, it is essential that the industry effectively coordinates its messages to both consumers and providers of services that are dependent or reliant on the PSTN. Other insights focused on the benefits of minimising the forced migration of users away from the PSTN as well as the potential technical challenge posed by the UK’s approach to number portability.

Richard Hooper, chair of the BSG, said: The UK is well placed to manage a successful migration from the PSTN to all-IP networks. Industry is already taking measures such as providing test facilities to companies that provide data services. However, this report makes clear that we need to continue to strengthen this work to avoid the pitfalls other countries have made and protect vulnerable consumers. It is particularly urgent that industry works together with Ofcom and ensures that the messaging to consumers from communication providers is consistent.”

Read the full report here.

A long read – Forging our Full-Fibre and 5G Future

The Government has announced the conclusion of its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. The Review which was announced in the Industrial Strategy sets out the targets and overall policy framework for the sector for the next 15 years.

The headlines are a confirmation of the Government’s targets for full fibre coverage to reach 15 million premises by 2025 and full coverage by 2033, with 5G coverage by 2027. The targets and accompanying policy shifts – in particular the change in competition models – mark a significant evolution in the Government’s approach.

Commenting on the publication of the report the BSG’s Chair, Richard Hooper CBE, commented The BSG welcomes the Government’s publication of its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review and is pleased to be playing a useful role in barrier-busting in implementing fixed and mobile networks, and in PSTN switch-off which is the important precursor to fibre switchover.”

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What would a National Broadband Plan look like?

The UK telecoms industry is awaiting Government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review which we expect to see over the next few weeks. Whilst it is still unclear what the precise measures will contain the recently published National Needs Assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission offer a few clues.

Their headline recommendation was to call for a National Broadband Plan. So what might such a plan look like and what would it mean for Government policy in telecoms?

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LFFN Projects funding awards announced

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Spring Statement the areas that will be receiving funding from the £190 million Local Full Fibre Network allocated by the Government in 2017’s Autumn Budget. The second, substantive, wave of funding was awarded to 13 areas across the UK. Successfully bidding for the £95 million were Armagh City, Belfast, Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry, The Highlands, London, Manchester, Mid Sussex, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth, and Wolverhampton. (more…)

BDUK gets superfast broadband to 4.77 million

Figures published today by DCMS showed that BDUK-supported projects have seen 4,772,207 premises with a superfast broadband service available to them by the end of December 2017. The £1.7 billion Government program, BDUK, has provided funding where superfast broadband would be otherwise commercially unviable, enabling the Government to deliver on its manifesto commitment that 95% of the UK would have access to superfast speeds by the end of last year.

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Ofcom’s 2017 Connected Nations Report

The 2017 Ofcom Connected Nations Report, published December 15th, once again sets out the year’s main developments for both fixed and mobile networks’ performance as well as coverage.

Ofcom headlines the fact that 1.1 m UK homes and business (4% of properties) cannot get decent broadband – defined as having a download speed of 10Mbps. To address this, the government today announced that it will be mandating a regulatory Universal Service Obligation to make high speed broadband a legal right by 2020. (more…)

Is there a bigger role for satellite in the UK broadband market?

Satellite broadband hasn’t really taken off in the UK in the way that we might have expected it would 10-15 years ago. There are many reasons for this, both technical (latency issues affecting video calling and gaming applications and the potential for weather related outages) and economic (expensive terminal equipment and relatively high ongoing data costs).

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Silver linings in failure: Benefits of the MIP

I’ve written before about why the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) failed to live up to its expectations. In summary, building infrastructure is hard in any case and it’s even harder when neither the problem you want to solve nor solution are agreed upon by the parties involved. Last week though the Government published the Mobile Infrastructure Project: Impact and Benefits Report so it’s only fair to pay attention to the benefits that it delivered too.

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BSG Annual Conference – the Future of Digital Communications – Thursday 2 November 2017 #BSGComms17

The Broadband Stakeholder Group is delighted to invite you to our free Annual Conference on Thursday 2 November 2017.

Kick-starting with a keynote speech from Minister for Digital Matt Hancock, the Conference will focus on the future of digital communications, both in terms of infrastructure deployment and take-up of services.

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The £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to boost full-fibre broadband deployment is now formally launched

In November 2016, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the creation of a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) of £400 million, matched by private finance to invest in new full fibre networks over the next 4 years. After being announced again in the March 2017 Budget alongside other measures to boost investment in digital infrastructure, the Fund was formally launched yesterday.

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