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The UK Land Line Switch Off – What you need to know 📞

UK telephony is changing. 

In December 2025 BT Openreach will fully retire the old copper lines that have been the foundation of the UK’s telephony system for decades. It will be replaced with fibre-optic based internet telephony. 

We’ve complied this list of FAQ’s to support IDNet customers during the transition. 

Note: This article was first published in September 2022. We will add future content updates in due course. 

What is changing and why?

The UK copper phone network, set up in the Victorian era, is well past it’s sell by date!  

This so called ‘Big Switch Off’ is actually a gradual process of shifting from analogue copper phone lines to digital fibre lines. All land line phone calls in the future will be made over an internet connection. 

The UK’s analogue network PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) run over copper wires, so upon switch off, these services will cease.

This will impact both homeowners and businesses. 

What is replacing PSTN and ISDN?

VoIP is the main technology that will replace PSTN and ISDN. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It allows your telephone service to be delivered across the internet. As it only requires an internet connection to work, you will no longer need to have costly, old-fashioned analogue phone lines in your home or office. With VoIP, you will benefit from better call quality, greater flexibility and many additional features. Discover our Single Line VoIP Service.

What does the term ‘Digital Voice’ mean? 

Digital Voice is simply the name BT Openreach, the UK’s biggest landline infrastructure provider, uses for VoIP. You may also hear digital voice services referred ‘IP voice’. They are essentially the same thing. Discover our Single Line VoIP Service.

When is the switch happening?

BT Openreach has announced that ALL copper lines will be phased out by 2025.
But in reality, copper switch off will occur when most customers in a given area have been migrated to next-generation technologies. Therefore, you could say the switch off process begins when Openreach announces a “stop sell” in a given region. 

Ether way, IDNet will get in touch with you when it’s approaching the time for you to migrate.

What will happen when I am moved to digital voice services?

We supply customers with a new preconfigured DECT handset system for our digital service. We can discuss other handset options with you if a DECT system is not suitable for your needs.

Once set up, your new VoiP phone will work in much the same way, and you will be able to keep the same phone number. Discover our Single Line VoIP Service.

I’m already using VoIP, will I be affected?

If you have migrated to VoIP in the past, and are on a full-fibre broadband connection, you are ahead of the curve and won’t be affected by any upcoming changes. If you use VoIP but are on an ADSL or part-fibre (FTTC) connection, then at some point there will be a migration to a broadband-only data connection. This should be a seamless process. 

What are the benefits of digital voice?

Reduced Cost – Saving money is one of the major benefits of migrating to digital phone services. Digital Voice services are more cost effective compared to traditional lines, as you’re essentially paying for an internet connection with a small additional fee for Digital Voice features. By contrast with a traditional landline service, you usually pay for service charges towards the installation, repairs and maintenance costs.

Flexible Service – Digital Voice packages are highly flexible. You can adapt packages and features as necessary. This can help prevent surprise costs at the end of the month which sometimes happen with traditional landline service.

Integrated Features – Digital Voice incorporates special features such as voicemail, call waiting, call barring, and call diversion. It also has a special feature which helps blacklist nuisance calls. Digital Voice offers HD-quality calling, and the call barring option helps prevent calls being made to high rate or international destinations. Discover our Single Line VoIP Service.

Are there any negatives of Digital Voice? 

One consideration to make when transitioning to Digital Voice is that it is not compatible with some monitored alarm systems.  These commonly connect through traditional phone lines. If you use an alarm system at your property, you should contact your alarm company in advance.

Another consideration is that, unlike the current analogue system, digital voice services do not work if there is a power cut.  

Do I have to have a digital voice phone line? 

No – you can choose not to have a land line phone line at all. Many people rely on their mobile phone to make calls.  IDNet offer ‘broadband-only’ packages so you can select a service that doesn’t have a landline included. See our range of broadband only options. 

However, if you do want a landline phone service, it’ll have to be a digital voice service from 2025. 
See our Single Line VoIP Service

Conclusion 

Our recommendation at the moment (until 2024) for single line users would be to not panic about the switch off and move to a VoIP solution once FTTP/H is available in your area. 

For business with multiple lines, Hosted Centrex (https://www.idnet.com/centrex-hosted.php) offers far more features than ISDN/PSTN MultiLine so we would advise to switch as soon as possible to benefit from enhanced functionality and the reassurance that you are future proofing communications for your business. 

**We would recommend our partners take action as soon as possible to move their customers off of copper based products where possible as there is a trend for suppliers/users to leave everything to the last minute – this will likely result in order delays and lack of engineering resource later on. Acting sooner will only re enforce your image and standing with your clients, moving them calmly without the hassle and panic which will almost certainly be apparent nearer 2025**

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