Telecommunications Systems

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 17th September 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what discussions he has had with Ofcom on the switch off of the Public Switched Telephone Network; and what plans he has to ensure that consumers are (a) prepared for and (b) informed of that switch off.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the (a) value of equipment that will need to be replaced and (b) number of homes affected by the planned switch off of the Public Switched Telephone Network.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The retirement of the public switched telephone network (PSTN), and its replacement with Internet Protocol technology, is being led by Openreach and Virgin Media, as the relevant infrastructure owners. Openreach and Virgin Media have publicly set out their plans to withdraw these services by the end of 2025. The migration is likely to affect all fixed exchange lines, of which there are 31.3 million in the UK. As an industry led process, the Government has not made an assessment of the value of equipment to be replaced.

In June this year, the Broadband Stakeholder Group, a government advisory forum on telecoms policy, launched the ‘Future of Voice’ website. This is a consumer-facing website to inform the public of the PSTN switchover process. The website has been developed with the support of telecoms companies, Ofcom and DCMS.

DCMS regularly engages with the telecoms industry, Ofcom, and other Government departments on PSTN withdrawal, to discuss the impact this will have on consumers, business and public services and plans for migration to Internet Protocol technology. For example, DCMS attends Ofcom’s working groups with industry on this issue and also holds a regular meeting with relevant Government departments.

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