The UK’s telephone network will be going digital this decade, with the telecoms industry planning to switch off the established copper network at the end of 2025.
According to Which? this is not common knowledge amongst the UK population though, as a representative survey from the telecoms company Taking Care found that 91% of people did not know this fact.
The PTSN (public switched telephone network) will soon all work via broadband connection rather than through a physical system.
Countries like Estonia and the Netherlands have already switched off PTSN, whilst the likes of Germany and Japan are in the process of doing so.
It will all move onto a system called Digital Voice in the UK.
What is Digital Voice?
Digital Voice services will work through broadband connection rather than through copper wire.
Specifically Digital Voice is the name BT uses for its service, but there are also other branded versions like Sky Digital Voice or TalkTalk Voice.
Why is the traditional network being switched off and when will it happen?
Which? say that the physical network that was built during the Victoria era just does not really suit the population’s needs in communication anymore.
A switch to fibre optic networks on broadband will also be more reliable and easier to maintain.
From 2023, traditional phone services won’t be offered to new or recontracting customers, and by December 2025 they will be withdrawn entirely.
However, there is a chance you may be migrated sooner if the infrastructure in your local area fails, as malfunctional copper lines and phone exchanges aren’t being replaced.
What will happen when I move over to digital?
Some phones may require an adaptor, but others may just required being put into a new router.
Older phones might need to be replaced though, and it’s likely that providers will offer a new model, but it might come at a cost.
Upgrading to full fibre services has more of an impact because fibre optic cables need to be installed through to your home.
An engineer visit will always be required to set up the service which will be connected using either overground or underground cables.
What if I don’t want the digital service?
There is an option to not have a phone line at all as providers will offer ‘broadband-only’ deals so you can select a service that doesn’t have a landline included.
Which? also states: “Those who currently only have a landline won’t be forced to pay for broadband services that they don’t want or need.
“Their digital phone service will work using a special dedicated broadband connection and shouldn’t cost any more than what they pay now.”