Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA) is a new service offering that allows Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) access to the internet without the need for a traditional PSTN line, in short, a single broadband line.
With the PSTN switch-off slowly creeping up on UK businesses, and many exchanges already on a stop-sell, the onus is on leaders of SMEs to start exploring their business broadband options sooner rather than later. Over 3 million B2B fixed lines need to be migrated by the 2025 deadline. Any business still relying on a traditional phone line should already be thinking about when to make the move to ensure minimal disruption, as well as future-proofing their setup.
What is SoGEA broadband and how does it work?
Traditional broadband connections ran from the exchange or the cabinet, straight into a business premises. Historically, you could run your broadband and phone line over this connection, but this is slowly being phased out by BT. The process for transferring data via the PSTN is changing to an all-IP solution as of 2025, so all businesses need to move to full fibre where available, or a SoGEA connection prior to then.
The difference between SoGEA broadband and FTTC, is that SoGEA carries the voice as data without the need for a phone line. As it doesn’t require any new infrastructure to install, it can be a cost-effective solution for SMEs, particularly in areas that can’t yet access a full fibre connection. Up until now, SMEs will have likely had a WLR phone line direct to the exchange, and copper broadband from a street cabinet. The WLR part of the solution, the part which enables phone calls, is what is being phased out over time.
There are some key differences between SoGEA and FTTC or FTTP broadband. Crucially, where the connection from the green cabinet to the premises is still copper due to distance, SoGEA will carry the data to enable VoIP (voice over IP) calls to work, without the need of replacing the copper connection. Though widely accessible in the UK, FTTC is only available in areas where proximity to the fibre cabinet isn’t an issue. So for the more remote business premises, this may not be an option. In a SoGEA connection, because the last part of the connection is still copper, it does mean that comparable speeds are not as high as FTTP.
With FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) vs SoGEA, availability and cost are the main considerations. Complete fibre connections run direct to a business premises from the exchange, and so they have unrivalled speeds and performance, but this comes at a cost. Significant infrastructure is needed to enable this type of connection and currently, FTTP connections are only available for around 19% of UK premises.
Benefits of SoGEA broadband for SMEs
This new service is set to revolutionize the way businesses connect to the internet and is helping to bridge the digital divide in the UK. Here are some of the benefits that SoGEA offers SMEs:
SoGEA offers a solution for SMEs that cannot afford to pay for ultrafast broadband services which require significant investment such as FTTP. With SoGEA, businesses can benefit from better internet speeds and at the same time, remove the need for a separate landline cost. This can reduce the cost of internet access by up to 40% when comparing with more complex options such as FTTP.
2. Improved Reliability:
SoGEA broadband offers a more reliable internet connection than traditional ADSL broadband. This means that SMEs can enjoy a more stable connection, reducing the risk of downtime and lost productivity. In the event of downtime or a fault, getting to a resolution will be faster, due to everything coming from one supplier. SMEs are no longer being tied to a separate landline contract in addition to the internet connection.
3. Easy Installation:
SoGEA is easy to install and does not require any additional equipment. Engineers install SoGEA by utilising the existing infrastructure and making minimal changes to the technology underneath it. This means that SMEs can benefit from a high-speed internet connection without the need for a technician to visit their premises.
4. Increased Flexibility:
SoGEA broadband offers increased flexibility for SMEs. With traditional broadband, businesses are often tied into long-term contracts, making it difficult to switch providers. With SoGEA, businesses can easily switch providers without the need for a traditional phone line. A SoGEA connection enables you to run over the top services like VoIP on the connection, meaning you have flexibility when it comes to your choice of voice supplier, and you are not tied to whoever is delivering your connectivity.