BT asks Ofcom to shut down legacy network to compete with OTT players like Apple, Facebook

BT (NYSE: BT) has asked UK regulator Ofcom to permit it to shutter its traditional POTS (plain old telephone service) network so it can more effectively compete with a growing pool of nontraditional, over-the-top voice providers like Facebook and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).

The service provider, reports The Telegraph, plans to transfer all of its residential and business customers to VoIP-based services over the next 10 years, but today it is required to continue providing a traditional phone service under Ofcom rules.

BT is asking Ofcom to relieve it of its current POTS service obligations, which it says would enable it to redirect more of its attention to expanding its broadband footprint. The telco said that this migration would also not impact the majority of customers that currently use a VoIP service.

Similar to AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), which are also in the process of migrating their own networks from TDM to IP, BT said it wants Ofcom to end what it calls obsolete regulation to be removed rather than waiting until the last user stops using the service.

"We believe obsolete regulation should be rolled back, rather than clinging on until the last user dies," said Mark Shurmer, BT's group director of regulatory affairs, in a Telegraph article.

BT's TDM-based phone network is managed by Openreach, a unit whose future Ofcom is currently trying to figure out as part of its overall review of the UK's communications market. The telco's main rivals TalkTalk and Sky want Openreach to be fully separated from BT to establish a financially independent company

At the same time, BT has been lobbying for deregulation of the country's telecom market, and also wants permission to use modern software to help it reduce Openreach costs by controlling its network from central BT data centers.

A similar issue is taking place in the United States amongst large telcos such as AT&T and CenturyLink. AT&T has set a goal to sunset its TDM network by the year 2020, while CenturyLink has asked the FCC to let it shut down TDM voice services in areas where consumers have alternative services available.

For more:
- The Telegraph has this article

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