Update: 21st Feb 2023 - We're hearing more and more from our contacts in the industry that the date of the switch is being pushed back to 2026. We will of course ammend our blog as appropriate if an official announcement is made, but for now these are rumours only.
In the UK, from 2025 the technology that currently powers landline phones is planned to be switched off.
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The big switch off
The PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network is what current landlines run on. Those old copper wires have served us well, but they are being rapidly phased out in favour of newer technologies such as fibre optics. Phone companies have been working hard to build the infrastructure to facilitate the new standards so that everything will be ready in time to replace the old PSTN technology with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) in 2025.
From 2023 any new line installations for landlines will be installed as broadband VoIP phone lines.
The changes for users should be minimal as most of the work is being done on the network side, however there are several things for home and business users to be aware of.
What will I need to do?
Your provider will automatically switch your telephone to a VoIP connection when the exact switchover date is announced. It is possible you may need an adapter to plug your existing landline telephone into your broadband router, but this along with any other equipment you may need should be supplied by your phone company.
Even if you don’t have broadband currently, your provider should still make the switch for you to a basic broadband “line only” connection, if that’s what you require.
What is VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This means that rather than going through an old, switched telephone network, your voice traffic will now be routed via your broadband internet, which allows for much greater clarity and security than with the old network.
Will I keep my old number?
Yes, there should be no change in your landline telephone number.
Will I need to buy a new telephone?
According to Ofcom, your provider should supply any new equipment to make your landline work; for example a new router, or adapters to plug in existing landline telephones to your existing router.
You will still be able to have a “landline” telephone in your house, but rather than it being connected to the old PSTN network going forwards, it will now be plugged into your Broadband connection – directly into your router, via wi-fi or directly into a new wall socket.
Will my new phone contract be more expensive?
It shouldn’t be – there should be no real change in the price of your landline phone contract. This is not something we can guarantee of course, as it is up to each individual provider, but the transition should be seamless for the end user in terms of your landline contract.
Will I need an internet connection to make phone calls?
Yes. Once the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) network is switched off in 2025 you will no longer be able to make phone calls via landline with no internet connection.
What if I don’t have a broadband connection?
According to telecoms regulator Ofcom, you will be given the choice to buy a simple “line only” broadband connection, which will effectively replace your current landline if you do not need to use high-speed internet services. This should not cost any more than your standard line rental as it stands.
What if my Landline and Broadband providers are different companies?
You will have the choice to switch from one to the other once landlines are axed in 2025.
What about my Fax Machine, Alarm, or Emergency Call Pendant?
Some technologies such as Emergency Call Pendants, Credit Card Machines, Fax Machines and some Alarm systems that rely on existing technologies will need adapting to the new VoIP technology. You will need to speak to your phone provider before the switchover to see if they can aid you in the transition. In most cases there should be adapters available such as a Cisco ATA192 to aid in the transition, however it would be wise to check ahead of time to see what you will need to do.
What about power cuts?
If there is a power cut with VoIP, you will not be able to make or receive calls using VoIP.
With the old PSTN system, a standard corded telephone was powered by the line itself, so if there were a power cut at your home or business then your basic telephone line would still work.
Like a Cordless DECT Phone that relies on power being supplied to its base unit, VoIP relies on power that runs the equipment in your house such as your broadband router, so if there is no power you will be unable to make calls via your home broadband.
Backups and alternatives
It is recommended that you have a backup method of making and receiving calls such as a mobile phone ideally with 4G or 5G internet access. That way if the power drops on your home broadband, then you would still be able to make and receive landline calls via an app on your mobile phone.
It is also possible to invest in a small UPS – Uninterruptable Power Supply or Battery Backup system, that will keep your communications up in cases of power outages. These are typically sold to businesses and industry in order to keep infrastructure up and running, but there are plenty of domestic sized units on the market perfect for home users.
Are ISDN lines being discontinued?
Yes, in 2025 both ISDN 2 and ISDN30 lines are also being dropped in favour of VoIP. You will need to speak to your provider to discuss your options if you are using business grade ISDN.
Will VoIP Calls affect my broadband speed?
For home, and most small business users VoIP calls shouldn’t take up the sorts of bandwidth that will affect your broadband speeds. To go into the technical details of codecs and compression would take an entire blog in themselves, but to be brief here; at the top-end, for one call should take at maximum around 90kbps per call which is a tiny amount of bandwidth, so even with a relatively modest 10mbps broadband connection you should barely notice any impact.
When landline phones are cut off in 2025, your Netflix shows or Gaming sessions should not be affected by a little extra VoIP on the line.
Can I have two Broadband connections, one for calls and one for data?
Yes. This is common and if you’re a business who relies on telephones and connection to the internet, then it is sensible to have more than one broadband connection.
It is possible to have one broadband connection set up to handle your internet access and the other dedicated VoIP calls. You could even use different providers for extra redundancy. That way if one broadband connection drops then you have some redundancy to keep your business up and running.
By way of example, here at PMC Telecom we have a VoIP cloud business telephone system. Staff can answer calls either by an app on their PC using a USB Headset - Their PC is connected to our regular data broadband for internet use; or, they can answer calls directly on their desk IP phone which is connected to a separate, dedicated VoIP broadband. This way if there’s ever a problem or outage with one broadband connection, we have a fallback connection to the other so we’re always available to our customers. It's worth knowing that there are cordless headsets which can connect to both IP phone and PC at the same time, so for ultimate flexibility, they're definitely worth the investment.
You would need to speak to your provider if you would like a parallel broadband line set-up next to your existing broadband this is relatively easy to do but does need the required internal network infrastructure to facilitate.
Where can I contact my provider for more information?
Some of the finer details of the switchover are still being released and we’ll keep this page updated with more news as we get it, but for further information you can contact your existing provider to find out where you stand when the big switchover happens – we have posted links to Ofcom and Openreach below who have some excellent information pages regarding the landline switch off in 2025.
If you have any more questions or suggestions for this article, please comment below and we’ll try to answer for you.