Upgrading landlines to digital technology
By DTA | 4th September 2023 | News
BT has taken the decision to retire its public switched telephone network (PSTN) by December 2025. Lines will then use broadband to make calls, if you rely on a landline, you will still be able to make calls but the technology that powers them will be different. Other providers that use BT's network must follow the same timescale.
The UK isn't the first country to make this move. Estonia and the Netherlands have already switched off their PSTNs, and France, Germany and Japan are just some of the other countries that are also in the process of winding theirs down.
In addition, telecoms providers are also investing in new systems and networks - for example, by upgrading old copper-based broadband lines to full-fibre. They will need to switch customers away from the old PSTN at the same time as upgrading their technology.
This means that in the future, landline calls will be delivered over digital technology, called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). You might also see this referred to as 'digital phone' or 'digital voice'.
The Offcom website has advice for small businesses:
"Just like residential customers, small businesses that want to continue using their landlines will eventually have to move to VoIP services.
You might also have equipment such as card payment machines, alarms, and monitoring equipment connected to your landline that might not work once you have migrated to a VoIP service.
Speak to your landline provider to establish what other equipment your business uses that relies on the PSTN. You should also speak to the current supplier of this equipment for advice on options for replacing or reconfiguring it.
For any other queries, including if you have a more complex set-up at your business, please speak to your landline provider for specific advice.
If you have any questions about the move to VoIP, contact your provider. You can also find more information online:
The Future of Voice website, hosted by the Digital Connectivity Forum, formerly the Broadband Stakeholder Group, and supported by the main telecoms providers, sets out information on the move to VoIP services for residential and business customers.
Openreach has published factsheets for businesses who use phone lines to deliver services to help them understand how the move to VoIP services will affect them.
The decision to close the PSTN has been made by industry, not Ofcom or the UK Government. Our aim is to make sure customers don't face undue disruption or harm from the changes. For example, we have rules to protect customers in power cuts, and to require phone companies to provide access to emergency calls at all times. We have published a detailed policy statement (PDF, 647.9 KB) setting out our approach to this."
Full Offcom article: Moving landline phones to digital technology: what you need to know - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/future-of-landline-calls
Which: Digital Voice and the landline phone switch-off: what it means for you - https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband/article/digital-voice-and-the-landline-phone-switch-off-what-it-means-for-you-aPSOH8k1i6Vv