SOGEA: Horrible name, useful product



Timescale Note: We have not yet set definitive timelines for the actions in this document. We will update this as we progress.


As you have hopefully heard, BT (specifically: Openreach) is intending to retire the old telephone network in 2025. This means that there will no longer be copper phonelines that start in the customer premises and end at the phone exchange for the purposes for making and receiving calls. Of course, there will still be copper lines that start in the customer premises and end in the street cabinet for FTTC and GFast services.

Up until now, FTTC and GFast orders that A&A has placed have been against a copper telephone line with a geographical telephone number corresponding to the local dialling code. With the withdrawal of phone lines with dialable numbers, this process will have to change.


SOGEA means “Single Order Generic Ethernet Access”. The important bit is “Single Order”. Rather than placing separate orders for a telephone line AND for a broadband service, the phone line will now no longer exist, so just one order will be placed, for the broadband service (including copper from premises to cabinet).


Internet Service Providers like A&A have quite a task ahead of them to move customers away from the old “two-piece” services (phone line + broadband) and onto SOGEA services. A&A has thousands of customers; some ISPs have millions!

There are three main groups of customers we have identified, with a slightly different approach for each :

  1. Broadband Only Lines

    Fortunately, the task ahead for A&A has been reduced considerably by our long-term sale of “broadband only” lines. Our own copper lines have never been able to (or advertised as for) calling purposes. As such, for all lines of this type, customers should not notice any change at all. They still will not be able to make or receive calls on the line but … they never could! A&A has always used the nomenclature of “copper pair” for this reason. These customers will be relatively easy to move to SOGEA, since on a practical level, the after will be identical to the before.
  2. Broadband lines, but different PSTN provider

    However, A&A does also have many customers who, for one reason or another, need(ed) the ability to make or receive calls, and therefore chose not to take our copper pair service, but instead to run our broadband service over the top of another telco’s PSTN line. Variously, A&A customers use BT retail, or Post Office, or another provider for their PSTN, and use it to make and receive calls (sometimes this is for a special purpose such as a credit card terminal).

    If there is a credit card terminal on the line, now would probably be a very good time to migrate to a more modern one which uses IP rather than a dial-up telephone service. Card merchants are aware of the PSTN closedown, and are usually quite helpful about the process. If this can be done, and was the only reason for retaining a PSTN line, then these customers can be migrated as described above. The PSTN+broadband simply become one clean SOGEA broadband service.

    If there is just a phone on the line (some customers still have cordless DECT phones, for example), then the process is slightly longer. Before the SOGEA migration happens, the number from the old PSTN line must be ported to VoIP, and new telephone equipment supplied. We have a range of desk-based phones, as well as some cordless DECT ones. These plug into your network rather than into the phone line. Once this VoIP port has happened, the number will no longer be associated with the copper line, and calls will come in via VoIP. Then the copper to SOGEA migration can take place, similar to the “A&A copper pair” example above.
  3. Trickier situations

    Finally, there will be the most challenging SOGEA migrations; where specialist hardware is used on the telephone line. Personal panic alarms, burglar alarms, large button keypad phones, lift car help button lines, and so on. These will need special consideration. Some may be able to be migrated to cellular services. Some may be undertaken similarly to the 2nd example above but with the addition of a VoIP to PSTN interface; in other words create a ‘simulated’ PSTN line, but over VoIP. Contact A&A if you feel you may have a situation that needs additional assistance.

The process A&A intends to follow

A&A will begin with very small numbers of migrations of the first type. Once any problems have been worked out, bulk migrations will take place of all of these services in increasing sized batches. We regard these as the lowest hanging fruit, and these should be done very rapidly and without any problems. We will then move onto those in group 2 and 3.

What do customers have to do?

If you are in the first group, you will not have to do anything. You will be migrated seamlessly and will not notice any difference. You didn’t have PSTN services before, and you still won’t after.

If you are in the second group, we will be contacting you to explain what will need to happen. We anticipate some customers in this group may actually not be actively using, or in need of, their landline number any more. In these cases, the migrations will be able to go ahead similarly to group one. Otherwise, discussions will need to be had relating to choice of VoIP hardware.

If you are in the third group, we will work with you to establish the best course of action for your specific circumstances.

What about ADSL?

This document has mostly related to FTTC and GFast. For customers currently still on ADSL but in areas where FTTC, FTTP, or GFast are available, we anticipate customers migrating to those products unless there is a very good reason not to; indeed the option to remain on ADSL where alternatives exist may not even be offered by Openreach (and by implication therefore be unavailable via BT Wholesale or TalkTalk Business). In places where ADSL is the only option, Openreach has developed "SOTAP"; Single Order Transitional Access Product, specifically to fill in gaps where there isn't an FTTC cabinet yet.

SOTAP is a metallic path (a pair of copper wires) from the customer premises to the exchange, over which ADSL will continue to be able to be delivered. It is worth noting that even in its naming ("transitional") it is clear that Openreach sees this as a 'stopgap' until FTTC or FTTP becomes available in an area. We understand that the long term plan is to try and remove all PSTN-serving equipment in the immediately after withdrawal in 2025, and to remove all ADSL-serving equipment as it becomes possible to do so (following behind FTTC/FTTP upgrades in areas).

Migrations from WLR3 (PSTN lines) + ADSL over the top to SOTAP should be straightforward, and not administratively very different to FTTC migrations to SOGEA.

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