~ How both services will aid the transition to a copper-free network ~

The public switched telephone network (PSTN) switch off is scheduled for 2025, and will mark the end of the copper-based telephone network. In the lead up to the switch off, businesses must transition away from PSTN-based products to newer services including FTTP and SOGEA. Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of business communications services provider Crystaline, explains what FTTP and SOGEA services are, and how they will support businesses navigating the PSTN switch off.

The PSTN consists of traditional telephone lines that use copper wire to transmit voice communications. Many businesses and residences still use the PTSN for telephone communications. However, in December 2025 all UK copper lines will be retired, signalling the end of the PSTN. The replacement services that will be used going forward include fibre to the premise (FTTP) and single order ethernet access (SOGEA).

Figuring out FTTP

FTTP is a service where pure fibre optic cables connect the customer premises straight to the exchange. Previous services always incorporated a copper cable in some way. For instance, the fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service has fibre optic cables running from the exchange to a street cabinet and then a copper line connecting to the premises. ADSL/ADSL2+ services rely on a copper cable running all the way from the exchange, through the street cabinet and to the premises.

FTTP holds a number of advantages over services that incorporate copper cables. Fibre optic cables transfer information through pulses of light, and therefore data travels as fast as the speed of light. In fact, being full fibre, FTTP can be 25 times faster than FTTC. The speed and performance of FTTP is unaffected by distance and demand, so customers receive a consistently fast and reliable service.

While still limited in reach, FTTP has slowly grown throughout the country, with Salisbury being the first city to gain FTTP technology across its whole area. FTTP is often described as the future of broadband, and its nationwide rollout is expected to accelerate over the next few years.

Making sense of SOGEA

As well as FTTP, SOGEA is shaping the future of connectivity in the UK by eliminating the need for a traditional phone line in order to deliver broadband to a premises. Previously, even if the customer only wanted a broadband service, they would still have to pay line rental. SOGEA is a data only service, meaning it doesn’t require a phone line as it has a dedicated line that delivers broadband connection.

As the service only needs a broadband line, opting for SOGEA speeds up the order process and has lower monthly costs. With just one supplier to contact, SOGEA comes with more efficient support and issue resolution. In addition, SOGEA can be 50 per cent quicker to install compared to regular broadband.

The new way to call

In both FTTP and SOGEA, instead of a copper phone line, voice calls can be made through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Put simply, VoIP is the transmission of voice content over an internet connection. Audio at one end of the connection is compressed and converted into digital packets, which are transferred through the internet to the other end of the connection. Here, they are converted back into audio files, providing ultra fast internet-enabled phone calls.

At Crystaline we offer a range of business voice services, including hosted VoIP solutions. We work with businesses to create a telecommunications solution that’s optimised to both their current and future business requirements, including preparing for the PSTN switch off.

With just a few years to go before the switch off, businesses must adapt their communications systems to new services that don’t incorporate copper lines. Whether businesses select FTTP or SOGEA broadband services, as copper cables are retired, the future of voice communications will be over the internet.