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A brief history of copper and its Endgame!

Posted by Nick Shepperd, Head of Product on Nov 20, 2019 2:29:51 PM

A few months ago we ran a webinar at FluidOne for customers about a full fibre Britain and what this means for us all. It was a great session with good debate and brilliant Q&A....

For preparation I carried out a great deal of research and as I was trawling through information, I came to appreciate and understand why our industry may be confused around what is going on with the copper network.

So for those who were unable to join the webinar I thought I would write a short blog which guides you through copper retirement and steps you should take.

The simple truth...

The simple truth is that the UK copper network is ageing and has been pushed far beyond its original design. As our homes and businesses move services to the cloud, a copper network simply isn’t going to cut it.

Below is a short guide that cuts through some of the jargon and guides you from legacy to new services.

Nick Shepperd, Head of Product

Jargon Buster


New to the telecoms industry, SoADSL or SoTAP are simply ADSL as we know it today but without a voice PSTN service (you can’t make a phone call like we do today on the line). They will still run on the copper network but they have no voice element. This product is a transitional product for when the traditional PSTN network is retired and when we go full fibre (no copper network). You will need a hosted voice product to make calls over the Internet with this type of connection.


SoGEA is the concept of a fibre product without a voice service, delivered over FTTC so again it is a transitional product to FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). SoG.Fast is more complicated as its two transitional products put together. G.Fast is FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), which offers fibre for part of the line and copper for the final section to the premises, but with additional hardware to push extra speed over it... SoG.Fast takes and removes the PSTN (voice) element like SoGEA. Confused? The key here is these are products that although only launched in the last 12 months will go on stop sell in 2023 based on current OpenReach plans.

PSTN / ISDN – Due to be retired by 2025 (Stop sell 2023)

PSTN is where the copper network began designed to carry voice calls only. With the end of the copper network, PSTN as we know it, will end too. We will still be able to pick up a phone and make a call, but this will be delivered via the internet instead of traditional dial tone. The same applies to ISDN, which is being replaced by voice solutions such as SIP, and the data element moved to FTTP or Ethernet services

ADSL – Due to be retired by 2025 (SoADSL until 2030)

There was a time that ADSL and ADSL2+ led our market, delivering up to 24Mbps which for a limited time met user needs but now these speeds only work for low usage scenarios. This technology really pushed the copper platform beyond its designed purpose, so the trade-off was often intermittency issues and speed fluctuations.

EFM – Due to be retired by 2030

A lot of the time people only think about voice or broadband when considering the removal of copper services. It’s often not considered that Leased lines could and will be affected. Ethernet First Mile is made up with bundles of copper circuits to provide faster speeds and a level of resilience. Five-year contracts for this product were stopped but EFM is still live today and has been quite successful. If you have an Ethernet circuit and you’re not sure if it is fibre, I recommend you speak to your service provider today! A lot of EFM was sold as Fibre and really shouldn’t have been, as it's really good old copper.

FTTC / G.Fast – Due to be retired by 2030

It’s hard to believe it but in the future FTTC and even the most recent G.Fast services will be taken out of service. It’s most likely they will be converted to FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). It may seem a long way in the future but it’s important to be prepared and make the necessary preparations.

My top tips on steps to take to ensure you are ready for the retirement of copper networks:

  1. Understand your services
    What do you currently have? Who is your provider and what are your options? Act now to protect your business connectivity and voice solutions.
  2. Get help with what you need
    You don’t need to replace like for like with FTTP, SIP and UC you can choose your voice or connectivity service based on your business needs.
  3. Seek trusted advice
    Reach out to a trusted partner who can guide you through these technologies and offer you the right level of quality solutions based on your requirements.

 If you have any questions around copper networks, or simply need expert advice please contact us by clicking here.

Topics: Business EFM, Business EFM Ethernet First Mile, Copper, copper infrastructure, adsl2+, SoTAP, PSTN, SoGEA,