The UK's Digital Transition: What You Should Know

The landscape of telecommunications in the United Kingdom is on the verge of a significant transformation. In 2017, BT made an announcement that set in motion a series of changes affecting how we connect and communicate. By December 2025, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be retired. This decision has far-reaching implications, including the discontinuation of Openreach’s Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) product portfolio.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about this transition:

The PSTN Phase-Out

The closure of the PSTN network means that Openreach will cease offering and supporting the WLR product portfolio, which relies on this network. Additionally, this transition will result in the discontinuation of broadband products that depend on WLR.

The Stop Sell Approach

Openreach is adopting a “Stop Sell” strategy, which means stopping the sale of certain products. Unlike product withdrawal, under Stop Sell, existing customers can continue using the product until it’s fully withdrawn. There are two primary rule sets that will apply to all premises in the UK:

1. WLR UK Stop Sell

WLR Stop Sell has undergone trials since May 4, 2021, and was implemented nationwide on September 5, 2023. Under this rule set, all exchanges in the UK have the WLR Stop Sell flag set, which restricts the supply of new WLR products. This restriction applies to all WLR variants and any broadband product (SMPF or FTTC) that relies on a WLR PSTN line.

Order Restrictions

The key order restrictions under WLR UK Stop Sell include:

  • Inability to request WLR working line takeovers.
  • Inability to add broadband to WLR PSTN lines (except FTTC ‘Non-bandwidth change’).
  • Limitations on bandwidth modifications for FTTC.
  • Acceptance of FTTC orders when provided using MPF.
  • Rejection of FTTC orders when provided using WLR, except for FTTC ‘Non-bandwidth change’.


Certain exceptions may be granted to Communication Providers (CPs) who are unable to consume All IP products. CPs can submit exception requests to Openreach, allowing the acceptance of orders for products on which the Stop Sell applies.

2. FTTP Priority Exchange Stop Sell

This rule set applies to premises in FTTP Priority Exchanges where FTTP is available. In these areas, FTTP becomes the primary product for CPs to offer, with some exceptions. Products such as WLR3 Analogue, ISDN 2, ISDN 30, SMPF, MPF, FTTC, and others will be unavailable.

Order Restrictions

The key order restrictions for premises within an FTTP Priority Exchange where FTTP is available include:

  • No new supply of other products.
  • No CP transfers, working line takeovers, or broadband additions to WLR PSTN lines.
  • Rejection of FTTC orders when provided using WLR (except FTTC ‘Non-bandwidth change’).


CPs unable to consume All IP products can request exceptions for certain WLR or MPF orders. Openreach may accept these exceptions on products affected by the Stop Sell.

Excess Construction Charges (ECCs)

In cases where ECCs apply in excess of the ECC waiver threshold for FTTP orders in FTTP Priority Exchanges, CPs may request a Stop Sell exception if they no longer wish to proceed with their FTTP order.

Stay Informed

The UK’s transition to an all-digital future is a complex process with various implications for communication services. Openreach provides comprehensive documentation and resources to help CPs navigate this transition effectively.

For detailed information, you can refer to the official documents provided by Openreach, including the Stop Sell policy document and principles.

Stay informed, adapt to the changes, and ensure your communication services remain reliable in this evolving digital landscape.