Ofcom sets out thoughts on future changes for voice phone calls
Ofcom has today published information on the changes underway in the UK’s telecoms networks as phone companies are moving their landline customers off the traditional network (PSTN) and onto the newer ‘voice over internet protocol (VOIP)’ digital technology which requires a broadband connection.
The traditional network is reaching its end of life and whilst the necessity of this upgrade will also bring with it consumer benefits, such as enhanced calling, some downstream services (such as security alarms and healthcare devices) are reliant on the PSTN and some customers at present do not have the broadband connection that VOIP calling necessitates.
Openreach has announced that its Wholesale Line Rental products that rely on the BT PSTN will be withdrawn by 2025, with Virgin Media anticipating a switchover within a similar timeframe. As highlighted in a report by Plum for the Broadband Stakeholder Group, this process is already underway or completed around the world.
Ofcom’s Statement sets out the expectations it has of communications providers in minimising disruption and providing adequate protection and support to consumers.
It also sets out where regulation could play a role in this new landscape – especially vis a vis the use and management of phone numbers and interconnection arrangements between networks, and expects to consult in the spring.