The great digital switchover — Everything you need to know about the analogue switch-off

The great digital switchover — Everything you need to know about the analogue switch-off

Date: 20/11/23

Author: Anthony Harrison

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What is the digital switchover 2025?

Traditional phone systems like landlines are making way for modern digital alternatives like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to make sure these services continue to run smoothly. If you use a landline at home, this change will affect you.

Even though the official switch to digital services isn’t until the end of 2025, many companies are already adopting VoIP. Openreach, the BT group company that takes care of phone and traditional broadband lines across the UK, has directed many customers to set up a new, alternate digital phone service themselves, BT Digital Voice


Who will be affected by the digital switchover?

Remember, this change isn’t just for BT users — it’s an industry-wide shift that impacts all fixed-line (landline) phone services. So it might be a good idea to start thinking about moving to digital sooner rather than later.

At Community Fibre, we’re here to lend a hand in transitioning to gigabit-capable full fibre and VoIP services. This can help future-proof your home with reliable broadband.

And here’s the exciting part: VoIP brings many great features beyond what traditional landlines offer. We’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages of switching in a bit, but first, why make the big move in the first place?


Why is the analogue copper landline network being switched off?

The first copper phone lines were established way back in 1877 to send voice data (calls) exclusively. As with many technologies, these analogue landlines are no longer fit for purpose and are getting pricier to maintain. This now means the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) needs an upgrade. But the great news is that transitioning to digital technology—like making calls over the internet—is more budget-friendly and can also give us clearer calls and faster connections.

In 1977, fibre optic lines were introduced. These allowed far more data, not just voice calls, to be sent and laid the foundation for our current broadband networks.

When PSTN gets switched off, those old copper wires will be retired. That means everything connected to them—like landline phones and other systems—will need an internet connection to keep working.


Which providers will be affected by the PTSN switch-off?

Undoubtedly, any provider who uses the old PTSN phone system will be affected, so it’s best to check with your current provider if you are unsure. However, some companies are already ahead of the curve and are utilising fibre optic broadband to deliver reliable digital voice services, like our Calls service.

National providers like BT, Sky, and TalkTalk (who rely on Openreach’s infrastructure) have different timelines for making this switch mandatory. They’re aiming to have all home customers using digital technology by 2025. 


Is it only phones that will be affected by the analogue switch-off?

Unfortunately, not. This switch isn’t just about landline phones. It’ll impact anything connected to PSTN, like alarms, CCTV, and door-entry systems. It’s a good idea to check with your provider to avoid any hiccups when the switch happens. Make sure these systems are compatible with the digital setup or if they need an upgrade.

For instance, there are a number of scenarios where things aren’t quite that simple for customers needing to make the switch:

  • If your main telephone is plugged into a socket that is not near your broadband router, then you will need to run a cable from the telephone to your router.
  • You might not know which telephone socket is your main socket, or someone may have hidden it behind cupboards or other furniture.
  • If you have any telephones that are plugged into extension sockets around your home, they will probably stop working when the switch happens.
  • If you have other devices (such as your intruder alarm) plugged into extension sockets around your house, they will probably stop working.
  • Some types of devices, such as fax machines, modems and assisted living devices, are incompatible with the new ‘Digital Voice’ service and will stop working.


Which customers are most at risk of losing connectivity during the landline switch-off? 

If you use devices that are directly linked to your phone line (like telemetry devices), you should speak to the provider of those services to check if they will be compatible with the new digital system. But here are some examples of other devices that may also be affected: 


These nifty phones have a keyboard and a screen, perfect for deaf users as they can type messages instead of talking on the phone. Some different textphone models have been tested by making text calls on IP networks, and they continued to work. However, the call quality for these devices was found to be affected if there was a lot of other data on the line. It’s good to note that the switch to IP won’t impact the free text relay service on the Relay UK app. You can use this app on your phone, tablet, laptop, or PC. 

Amplified phones

Designed especially for people with hearing loss, these phones have louder volume and better pitch control. The good news is, when tested, all the amplified phones performed well, even when extra data could cause interference.

Intruder and telecare alarms 

Telecare alarms automatically alert help, like a family member or medical aid, when someone presses a button. Intruder alarms safeguard your home against break-ins. If your current alarms rely on the old analogue system, you’ll need to upgrade your system. But most modern devices should work fine with the new IP setup.


What happens to a digital phone line if there’s a power cut or broadband is down?

The PTSN analogue phone system is linked to your local telephone exchange which has its own power supply. This means that if your electricity supply isn’t working, you’ll still be able to make calls if your electricity is down. 

This will change with the new digital service as it will rely on your electricity to continue working. This means that if there’s a power cut or network outage, your landline won’t work. Also, any other gadgets or systems connected to it won’t work during a power outage either.

Now, there are ways around this. You could get a battery backup for your internet router. That way, even if the power’s out, you can still get online. And it’s always handy to have a mobile phone as a backup too (for instance, if you need to call emergency services).

If you’re thinking about options or need advice, you can chat directly with your provider or talk to our friendly team here at Community Fibre if you’re thinking of switching to an established VoIP service provider.


What will replace landlines in 2025?

The direction is clear with Digital services like VoIP replacing analogue services and firmly bringing Brits into the age of digital connectivity. 

Although companies have already begun to test the rollout of digital services across their customer base, there’s still much work to be done in driving awareness around the landline switch-off and the difficulties some providers might face while transitioning a range of customers with unique setups to digital services.

Take BT customers for example. Many have reported having no idea what the big switch-off is, missing their email notifications, or being given little to no lead time to make arrangements to ensure their services continue to operate. It’s worrying, especially if you consider the number of Brits who rely on care alarms or security systems (elderly parents or vulnerable friends and family, for instance). 

 That’s why it’s important to act now.


The advantages of VoIP with Community Fibre — a hassle-free and risk-free digital switchover

If you want to take the hassle out of the Digital switchover, save money and get a higher quality service at the same time, then join thousands of Londoners who’ve switched to London’s best quality broadband provider and are saving on phone calls powered by full fibre broadband. 

We provide the UK’s most reliable broadband technology — 100% full fibre. It’s future-proof and sustainable, and our London network is up and running over 99.9% of the time with no peak-time slowdowns. We also offer The fastest wired download and upload speeds - up to 3 Gbps (up to 800 Mbps over WiFi). To complete your home phone and broadband set up, add our Calls service to your broadband package of choice and enjoy:

  • Unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles.
  • No Line rental.
  • Receive international and UK calls.
  • Keep your handset and phone number for free (number porting takes 12 days)​.
  • Voicemail - with forward to email notifications​.
  • Last call, call waiting, call forwarding and call-barring​.
  • Dedicated app - make free WiFi calls to all UK landlines and mobiles (even when abroad).

Looking to switch?

Get connected in as little as two days with no loss of service. You can run our broadband alongside your existing provider. So there’s no risk you’ll be without service when you change provider.

And with our handy cancellation letter templates, there’s one less thing to worry about.