I read this article today about the possible demise of the traditional Landline services in the UK offered by BT and Talk Talk and others such as Openreach and Wholesale services provided by companies like mine. As a telecommunications Company working on the coal face so to speak, I find articles like this misleading and in this case I don’t blame Fluidata as they are just reporting what the Joseph Roundtree Foundation has said in their annual report on household Standards of living and what is constituted as a necessary requirement to live adequately. So amongst this report they believe that the traditional landline is on the demise and we won’t be using it to make calls favouring mobile technology for delivery of VoIP calls and Internet access rather than the current trend to use a fixed line Internet service that runs over the top of the PSTN Landline provided primarily by Openreach a BT Company.
That’s a utopian point of view in my opinion.
They are not wrong, if the service was just FTTP (Fibre Optic to the Premises and no copper cable at all) and mobile data was used in 4G mobile routers like the Cradlepoint or Wibe they would of course be right. The PSTN Landline would not be required. However every FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet – The BT Openreach Street Cabinet that is) connection requires a standard landline in the last mile to connect the service to the FTTC Cabinet and the home. This is unlikely to change over the majority of the UK any time soon as a result of government and BT underinvestment in the services we will need in the next 30+ years in order to Deliver FTTP services throughout the land. Mobile Dongles are notoriously unreliable and usually if you are in a Not Spot for standard Broadband, your in a Not Spot for mobile signal as well. No fixed mobile device will help with that environment and there are an awful lot of locations rural and not so rural that fall under the “poor Broadband” category.
We are still seeing massive growth in landline sales due to them being required usually exclusively for broadband and point of sale credit card machines and I don’t see that changing any time soon. it’s the cornerstone of the current network infrastructure for BT’s Superfast Broadband rollout to the UK Towns and Cities it is currently midway through (at best!). This is about squeezing the asset in this case the copper network to keep costs down and not about what Britain needs to drive growth in the next 50 years.
One last point about mobile Internet Access – the majority of service providers in this industry are still charging more per GB per month than the traditional ADSL2+ Landline service that dominates our broadband infrastructure at present. Until that changes Mobile Data services will be a last resort solution to provide mission critical services to domestic and Business environments that can afford the monthly cost. Internet Service Providers are predicting massive growth in upload requirements focusing instead on download speeds and limits to downloads which is not addressing any of the future requirements and barely addresses the current situation.
VoIP Systems, SIP Service Trunks, Hosted Telephony and Data backup, Microsoft Online services like Office 365 and Cloud Servers, Web Collaboration, Online Conferencing, Music streaming, Streaming TV and Film – (I could go on) all require fast efficient high quality cheap broadband services with full mobile, and fixed line coverage that does not fail to offer a high quality signal to the end device. Future Internet access services need to be resilient and reliable 96% of the time. They also need to be cheap and cost-effective to deploy and run for domestic users and business users alike.
However as my Title of this Blog is a “A Utopian View of the Landlines Demise” I think you can tell I carry a degree of agreement with the original article but laced with much scepticism that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation must have been wearing rose-coloured spectacles when they were drawing up this report! I cannot but feel that BT and Openreach and The Government have no way of making sure the infrastructure needed will be deployed to enable Joseph Rowntree’s report to come to full fruition in the next 20 years as they predict and if it is going to happen it will be around 50 years if we allow the incumbent operator to manage the roll out of such services!
Especially when Government and BT do not appear outwardly to be planning for it favouring instead wasting money on transport projects like HS2!