14 November 2023

The Great British Switch Off - how will it affect me? A useful update from electronics retailer: LiGo

Update: Feb 2023 - We (LiGo) are hearing more and more from contacts within the industry that the date of the switch might be pushed back to 2026. We will of course update this blog as and when any new information becomes available and keep you abreast of any official announcements.

You may have heard that BT are switching off the old landline network in 2025. Obviously, that's a big change to the telecoms industry. The old copper network in place right now has been in use for over a century now. From 2025, though, all phones will go through broadband lines. This means that "landlines" as we know them will now be serviced by VoIP, or "voice over internet protocol"- in other words, your phone calls will go through the internet.

Will I need to buy a new phone? Naturally, you might be asking yourself: do I need to buy a new phone? Will I be able to keep my current landline phone in 2025? Do I need a phone which is already VoIP-compatible?

Don't panic! Your existing landline phone will still work after the switchover, the only difference will be that your phone connects to your broadband router via an adapter. While the change in infrastructure is a huge undertaking, most end users won't have to do much. In fact, the official guidance from Ofcom is that your phone provider should supply you with an adapter. The four main phone providers- BT, Virgin, Sky, and TalkTalk- have all said they will do so, and you can find links to their statements on the switchover process at the end of this article. These four companies provide 85% of the UK's landline service. If you are in the remaining 15%, we recommend contacting your provider to find out if they will be supplying customers with adapters too.

Will I need an internet connection to make phone calls? Yes. Once the PTSN network has been switched off it will no longer be possible to make phone calls via landline without an internet connection. If you don't have broadband access at home, your phone line provider can put you on a basic, line-only broadband connection, which will cost about the same as your existing line rental.

The only circumstances where you may need to do a bit more setup is if you have other services which are plugged into the PSTN line, such as security systems, fax machines, or telecare. In some cases these will be able to work on the new line with some additional setup. However, there may be systems which need to be replaced outright. Again, your phone provider should be in touch before the switchover to tell you what steps you need to take. However, it's probably for the best if you contact them in advance so you have plenty of time to make any necessary changes.

Will I still have the same phone number? Yes. While the technology behind the phone lines is changing, there's no need for everyone's phone number to change. Most users already have the option of porting their number over when they switch from an analogue line to VoIP. When the 2025 switchover happens, any numbers which haven't already been ported will be ported automatically.


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