Goodbye Copper Landlines, Hello VoIP

Traditional analogue telephony services provided over the copper network are changing. The future is most definitely digital as aging and difficult to maintain telecoms infrastructure is retired. By December 2025, it is expected that all users in the UK will be moved onto fully digital services.  This involves migrating the existing Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) (your traditional telephone landline) to a digital service (Internet Protocol or IP).

Landlines are not being removed, taken away or phased out. Landlines are simply changing to new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology which requires digital connectivity.

This switch to digital is happening across the world with some countries ahead of the UK and others behind. 

​This migration will not just affect landline voice services. It will also affect other devices that rely on a traditional phone line; for example, emergency alarms in lifts, telecare services and personal home care devices such as emergency pendants, some EPOS machines, door entry systems, some CCTV and fire or burglar alarms systems etc.

Residents and businesses are advised to complete a review of the devices and systems you use at home or for business to understand which devices may be affected. You can then see if the equipment has an option to switch to IP when the change happens or if these will need to be replaced or reconfigured to continue working. You can discuss this with your communications provider when they contact you about the switch.

​Openreach has taken the decision to retire the PSTN by December 2025 and other providers plan to follow a broadly similar timescale.

There will be a phased migration before 2025 in different parts of the country.  Openreach will stop selling analogue phone lines to new customers by September 2023. Some Communications Providers who currently utilise PSTN may also stop offering traditional services before the December 2025 deadline. This means we can’t be clear at what point between now and 2025 this may affect you as a Northamptonshire resident or business. Your landline provider will let you know when the process to migrate from your old landline to your new telephone service will apply to you.

Openreach will stop selling new copper- based services, whether you’re switching, upgrading or re-grading, if you have access to full fibre at your property and in exchanges where at least 75% of premises have access to full fibre. In this circumstance, you won’t be able to buy the old copper products like traditional analogue landline services; only digital products will be available.

​VoIP (a voice service over the internet) is expected to offer consumers clearer and better quality phone calls. To function correctly, VoIP requires a minimum stable internet connection speed of just 0.5Mbps.

Digital landline only services should still be available for those not wanting to take up broadband services.

The process of upgrading for most users will involve unplugging their existing landline phone from the wall and instead plugging it into the back of a broadband router.

VoIP services can be provided over copper landlines so if fibre is not available at your home, you can still access voice calls after the switch over.

However, VoIP services rely on mains power and will not work in a power cut. Ofcom has issued guidance on how telecoms companies can fulfil their regulatory obligation to ensure that VoIP customers have access to the emergency services in such circumstances.

When your time comes to move to VoIP services, if you are reliant on your landline, you should discuss your situation and needs for a back-up solution with your service provider before you are moved over.

Ensure that the equipment you have has a decent battery back-up in the event of a power cut.  If you are a vulnerable person and you rely on your landline for medical or other reasons, your service provider should provide you with equipment which has a suitable back up.

It is important, when the time comes to switch from analogue to IP, that you have made your provider aware of any special needs in this respect.

View Ofcom’s full guidance for further information:

Find Out More About the Landline Upgrade to Digital

There is a lot of available information about the telephone network switch over to digital.  Find out more via the links below:

Information from Openreach for homes and businesses is available below: