The Digital Switch Over

Jake Brewer By Jake Brewer Sep24,2023
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Openreach Announced – “By 31 December 2025 service providers will need to migrate most analogue telephone lines to digital phone lines. That’s 14 million lines and channels across the UK. Some service providers may choose to upgrade their customers sooner, so you might see this reflected in their product offerings. As of September 2023, we have stopped selling analogue phone lines to new customers to help prepare for this transition.”

Landline phone calls have traditionally been delivered over the old telephone network – this is known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

BT has taken the decision to retire the PSTN by December 2025 and other providers plan to follow a broadly similar timescale. This means that in future, landline calls will be delivered over digital technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses a broadband connection.

So what is the digital switch over?

Openreach aims to eliminate the telephone Exchanges by the 31 December 2025. This will mean, to carrying on having a telephone line, it will need to be generated using voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

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What is VOIP? – VoIP converts your voice into a digital signal, so that it can be sent between computers and other devices on the internet. It’s the same technology that’s used by popular video and voice messaging services like FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp.

Whilst VOIP may sound alien and complicated to some people, all that will change is the way you connect your phone to the network. Rather than connecting to a traditional wall socket, you will connect your phone to the back of the broadband router or by a wireless connection.

This change will affect other devices that rely on a phone line, such as some fire and burglar alarm systems and telecare devices. So, you should mention those devices to your provider and check if these need to be replaced or reconfigured to continue working.

Why is it happening?

The equipment used in the PSTN was developed and installed in the UK in the 1980s, and is becoming harder and more expensive to maintain. At the same time, telecoms providers are investing in new systems and networks such as full-fibre technology.

So, broadband and phone companies have decided to switch off the old network and deliver landline calls over new digital technology to make sure that our phone services continue into the future.

Will VoIP phones work in a power cut?

Unlike traditional phones, a phone connected to a broadband router will not work in a power cut, as the router gets its power from the mains.

If you rely on your landline – for example, you don’t have a mobile phone, you’re unable to use a mobile phone  or you don’t have mobile signal inside your home – your provider must make sure you are able to contact the emergency services during a power cut. This could be in the form of battery back-up so your landline will continue to work, or giving you a basic mobile phone to use in this situation.

How can I find out more?

If you have any queries or concerns about the migration to VoIP technology, contact your landline or broadband provider first of all. More information is also available at the Future of Voice website.

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