The Big Switch Off

What's in this Article

  1. When will my Landline be Switched Off?​
  2. Why are Landlines Being made Obsolete?
  3. What does PSTN Mean?
  4. What is a Digital Voice Service?
  5. What do I need to do to switch to a Digital Voice Service?
  6. Is a Digital Voice Service Secure?
  7. How is a Digital Voice Service Connected to my Home?

When will my Landline be Switched Off?

When it’s time for you to switch, your landline service provider will let you know. They could call the new service “Digital Voice,” “IP Voice,” or “Sky Voice,” for example.

Hundreds of thousands of BT customers have already switched to BT’s Digital Voice Service. At the moment, BT and other providers are focusing on giving customers digital phone services when they switch broadband providers or when they upgrade to full-fibre broadband. If you switch providers, you may also be given the option not to have a phone line at all.

What happens if you don’t want to switch? If you don’t want to switch to a digital phone service, you may have a couple more years until they are switched off all together. However, in 2023, traditional phone services won’t be available to new customers or customers who want to renew their contracts.

By December 2025, landlines will become defunct and will no longer be available at all. Furthermore, broken copper lines and phone exchanges aren’t being replaced, so there is a chance you could be moved sooner if the existing traditional telephone line infrastructure in your area fails.

By the end of 2025, phones will no longer use the PSTN, AKA copper network (PSTN is an acronym for Public Switched Telephone Network). However, the goal is for 85% of the country to have full-fibre coverage in the same year.

There’s also the option not to have a landline at all. You may choose simply to have a broadband Internet connection and either use a mobile phone (which you can use for calls over the Internet using apps such as WhatsApp or FaceTime). “Did you know? 98% of adults in the UK now use a mobile phone!” Alternatively, you could still have a landline but it will plug into your router, rather than a socket in the wall. Your service provider will provide you with all the hardware needed to keep you connected.

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Why are Landlines Being made Obsolete?

Our traditional phone network has been around since 1875 (Click here to read our article “A Brief History of Telegrams and our Traditional Landline System“). Even though its physical parts are still the same as when it was built, our communication needs have changed a LOT! Along with this, more and more broadband connections are using fibre optic networks. These are not only faster than copper, but they are also more reliable, durable, and easier to maintain.

What does PSTN Mean?

PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network and is the name given to the network connecting phonelines together using copper cabling. It was first offered to the public in 1881 and was managed by the Post Office. Swansea was the first to open PSTN services to the general public on the 23rd of March 1881, followed by Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bradford and Middlesbrough.

What is a Digital Voice Service?

The Digital Voice Service is what will be replacing the traditional landline telephone. Instead, your telephone will be connected to a router rather than a socket in the wall.

Here are some benefits to using Digital Voice Service that aren’t available with all traditional landline services (Offered by BT, some providers may vary):

  • Voicemail – Dial 1571 to hear your messages
  • Call Protect – Prevent unwanted calls and send them to your junk voicemail
  • Caller Display – See who’s calling and decide whether to answer
  • Call Diversion – Divert calls to any phone, including your mobile
  • Call Waiting – Get an alert if someone calls while you’re on the phone
  • 3 Way Calling – Chat with two other people at the same time
  • Permanent Withhold Number- Stop your number being shared with the people you call
  • Multi Call – Using multiple digital home phones, more than one person can make a call at once

What do I need to do to switch to a Digital Voice Service?

Your service provider will get in touch with you when the time comes or you can find a good deal now by shopping around. There are some things you need to consider. The following may require updates should you wish to continue using them:

  • Telecare (personal alarms)
  • Fax machines
  • Security alarms

If you live in an area that suffers regular power outages, make sure you inform your provider, particularly if you are vulnerable. You should ask them for a battery pack for your device (BT are supplying these) While Virgin ar providing units which has a battery pack and allows you to connect to your mobile and use its’ mobile network signal to make calls.

One final point, there are already scammers out there trying to fraudently sell the new services to vulnerable people. So, please make sure you know who you are talking to before entering any business arrangements and inform your vulnerable relatives/friends of these activities. 

Is a Digital Voice Service Secure?

In essence, landlines are more “secure”. By that, we mean it’s slightly more harder to do. However, this depends on the software you are using to make the digital calls. Apps like Whatsapp and Skype have end-to-end encryption which means it is extremely difficult to “intercept” any calls that are being made. What’s more important is to be aware of is general Cyber Security practises which you should be aware of anyway. This will lower the chances of anyone being able to gather your information.

Click here to read about general cyber security measures that everyone should practise in order to stay safe online. This information is provided by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre for the UK).

How is a Digital Voice Service Connected to my Home?

Here’s a video provided by BT which will explain how a Digital Voice Service is connected to your home.