Openreach implements nationwide stop sell

Openreach has crossed a major milestone in preparation for switching off the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in December 2025.

The company has announced the implementation of a UK wide ‘stop sell’ on sales of new Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) and related broadband ISP products.

The move, which will not impact existing users of these products until the 2025 deadline, means that anybody looking to buy a traditional analogue copper phone line rental (WLR and SMPF) service from a provider for the first time will no longer be able to do so.

This includes any linked broadband services such as FTTC,, ADSL.

James Lilley, director of managed customer migrations, Openreach, discussed what this latest development in the migration to digital only services means for the industry.

Lilley said, “As long as anyone can remember, the vast majority of phone calls in the UK have been handled by BT’s PSTN – an analogue system which connects people using specific phone numbers.

“But over time, the PSTN’s become outdated and difficult to maintain. Skills and parts are increasingly difficult to come by and new digital services like voice over IP, video conferencing and a whole range of apps have become more popular and effective for people communicating with one another.

“Back in 2017, BT saw this coming – signalling their intention to retire the PSTN network by the end of 2025 – and ever since then, we’ve been working to withdraw any Openreach products that work over the PSTN, including WLR. WLR is used by a number of our CP [communications provider] customers, and we’ve been working closely with them for years to help them prepare for the change.

“As part of that process, we’re now taking the significant step of ending the sale of WLR across the UK. That means when CPs’ customers sign up to a new contract – or when they switch, upgrade or re-grade their service via their provider – they’ll be moved onto a new digital line rather than an analogue one.”

Lilley emphasised the importance of carefully managing migrations for vulnerable customers, as well as highlighting the alternative services that customers can be moved to.

He said, “We’ll continue to do everything we can, working closely with our CP customers, to upgrade vulnerable customers and those customers using critical national infrastructure as safely and smoothly as possible and we have the processes in place to ensure this happens.

“Ideally the new service will be delivered over our full fibre network – which is already available to 11m homes and businesses nationwide – but, where that’s not available, we’ll move them onto a digital alternative.

“We’re determined to deliver a world-class, modern and reliable communications service for the entire UK and today is another important step towards the UK’s digital transformation.”