Openreach plans ahead for copper switch-off
The company has started thinking about how it will eventually turn off the copper broadband network
According to an interview with Computer Weekly from March 12th, Chairman Mike McTighe has said that Openreach has begun to explore how and when it will be turning off its copper broadband delivery network.
The broadband infrastructure company needs to be ready for the copper networks challenging switch off even though it probably won’t happen for another 15 years.
Even though Openreach has not stopped installing copper broadband infrastructure to increase coverage, it has big plans for an ultra-fast full-fibre future.
The company aims to roll out full fibre-to-the-premises technology to 10 million homes and businesses by the middle of next decade, however they hope to roll this out to 3 million by the end of 2020.
Despite efforts to connect new builds to full-fibre broadband McTighe has publicized that 50% of new homes – around 100,00 – only have access to copper lines.
NO ‘BIG BANG’
Rather than a complete shutdown at once which McTighe has named as a “big bang”, the network will be taken offline in stages.
“We’re going to posit a case to our stockholders (including BT) and hear what the industry has to say. Then we will posit some timescales, but it won’t be a big bang,” said McTighe.
“A big bang would be a disaster. It’s not going to be good for the UK and its certainly not going to be good for Openreach. The switch-off has to be successive, at some sort of level that people can get their minds around, and it will take quite a while.”
McTighe added: “We’re working with the government and the regulator on questions like, ‘if we accelerate the full-fibre build, how do we switch off the copper network and what does that look like’ That’s quite a challenge, but heavily influences the economics – if we do switch off the copper network, how do we compensate and how do we recover the assets that we are still putting into the ground?”
He further said: “If we’re going to come along in the next five to ten years and build a full-fibre network, the money we are now spending and will continue to spend can be recovered.”