Voice over IP and copper switch-off
The PSTN currently provides voice services to millions of households in the UK and the underlying analogue technology also supports a range of data services both to households – such as burglar and social care alarms – and non-domestic applications such as traffic lights or payment terminals. However, it is becoming uneconomic to maintain and also does not operate over digital full-fibre optical networks which the UK is aiming to deploy at scale over the next decade. The migration of voice services to an All-IP network is an important step on the path to our full-fibre and gigabit-capable future and ultimately the retirement of the copper network. Voice services that have historically been delivered over the PSTN will be carried as a data service over IP in the future.
In December 2018 we commissioned Plum to produce a report Preparing the UK for an All-IP future: experiences from other countries
BSG is supporting the sector in the current migration to All-IP in two ways: we are hosting the neutrally-branded website FutureOfVoice.co.uk on behalf of the sector which contains information for consumers and small businesses on the digitisation of landline services and how it will impact specialised services and equipment such as alarms, payment terminals and fax machines. We also facilitate discussion and knowledge-sharing between all stakeholders through the All-IP Consumer Communications Working Group which we convene regularly.
The provision and take-up of internet connectivity deliver significant economic and societal benefits. It has led to the creation of new and innovative services and applications, created efficiencies, and helped increase the sustainability of our public services. It has fundamentally changed the amount of information that is at our fingertips at any one moment. Ensuring that everyone can access the internet is an important and complex issue. The first step is providing the necessary digital infrastructure but issues such as the seeing the relevance, possessing the necessary skills and having the ability to pay for both devices and internet access are important and interlinked challenges. A significant proportion of non-users are not online for various reasons, including accessibility issues. Greater prominence must be given to this area alongside better research to understand these problems. In 2019 we commissioned ComRes to undertake primary research to explore at greater depth the rationale behind the reluctance to use the internet, particularly why people chose not to use the internet and whether some potential actions or interventions may shift people into adopting the internet. In 2020, Savanta/ComRes undertook a follow-up study which is being published in October.
Digital Exclusion Research Report (Oct 2020)