The UK’s telephone network is changing. Between now and 2025 most telephone providers will be moving their customers from old analogue landlines over to new upgraded landline services using digital technology.
What is the digital switchover?
The UK’s telephone network is changing. Between now and 2025 most telephone providers will be moving their customers from old analogue landlines over to new upgraded landline services using digital technology. The new network will provide a future proof, more reliable and dependable broadband service that will support the UK for decades to come.
This means services that rely on the old landline system such as home phones and healthcare devices will be switched over.
Why is it happening?
The PSTN is a privately-owned analogue telecoms network and the decision to upgrade it has been taken by the telecommunications industry. Fixed-line operators - such as Openreach, BT and Virgin Media O2 - will replace analogue telephone services with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which carries voice calls as data using internet technology. The upgrade will be delivered by the telecoms industry in a phased approach over the next couple of years, with the UK network expected to be fully upgraded to VoIP services in 2025. The switchover will happen on a telephone exchange by exchange basis and not on a regional basis seen in relation to the switchover of analogue television.
What are the implications?
For most people this change will be straightforward. In fact, many customers are already making the switch when they upgrade to full fibre broadband, and the change may be as simple as plugging the home phone into the broadband router rather than the socket on the wall.
Telecoms providers such as Virgin Media O2 or BT should contact customers before the switchover to check in to make sure their service isn’t affected.
However, the switchover has implications for the telecare and TEC sector, and the 2 million people who rely on those services in the UK. This means anyone with telecare services should check how the switchover will affect them, and what they need to do to be ready, so their care isn’t disrupted.
Digital landlines cannot carry a power connection, so in the event of a power cut they will not work. Mobile phones can still be used, but if the customer doesn't have any other means of calling the emergency services their telecoms provider will offer a solution to allow calls to be made to emergency services.
The digital switchover is fast approaching and will impact on a whole range of vital services, including in adult social care. Our survey shows that unless action is taken now to support councils to help their residents and suppliers with this change, we face the prospect of serious disruption to people’s lives, including most urgently those who use personal devices such as alarms and fall detectors to stay safe in their own homes.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, LGA Digital Connectivity Spokesperson
What the LGA are doing
We're launching a toolkit for councils and partners to use to raise awareness of the digital switchover for their residents and communities. Most services and providers should be checking in with their clients ahead of the switchover, but we want to support councils to make sure they can reach residents too.
The toolkit contains assets to use on social media, plus draft copy for websites and bulletins. This first wave aims to educate those around ‘telecare’ users. The next stage is to have a printable newsletter template for partners to distribute directly to residents who may be digitally excluded, or for voluntary, community or faith organisations to have out in libraries, community hubs, food banks and any other local spaces.
Adult social care switchover: [email protected]
General switchover: [email protected]
Digital switchover glossary
In 2016, it was announced that the telecommunications industry would replace all analogue (PSTN) lines and upgrade to digital internet-based infrastructure by 2025. As part of our sector-led improvement work, this hub intends to offer support to councils throughout the switchover period.
Digital switchover FAQs
These questions are based on three LGA webinar sessions that took place in October 2021, with delegates from councils. The webinar contributors were Openreach, Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) and Norfolk County Council.
Local Government Digital Switchover Working Group
The Local Government Digital Switchover Working Group aims to give councils an opportunity to discuss issues, opportunities and good practice relating to the analogue to digital switchover for adult social care and local government more broadly.