The UK telephone network is going digital: how will it affect you?

The UK’s telephone network will go digital this decade, with the telecommunications industry planning to deactivate the established copper network at the end of 2025.

According to which? this is not common knowledge among the UK population, however, as a representative survey by telecommunications company Taking Care found that 91% of people did not know.

The PTSN (Public Switched Telephone Network) will soon operate entirely through a broadband connection rather than through a physical system.

Countries like Estonia and the Netherlands have already disabled PTSN, while Germany and Japan are in the process of doing so.

This will all go through a system called Digital Voice in the UK.

BT has already launched the Digital Voice (PA) service there

What is digital voice?

Digital voice services will operate over a broadband connection rather than 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 shut down and when will it happen?

Which? say that the physical network that was built in the Victoria era just doesn’t really meet the communication needs of the people anymore.

A switch to high speed fiber optic networks will also be more reliable and easier to maintain.

From 2023, traditional telephone services will no longer be offered to new or renewing customers, and by December 2025 they will be phased out entirely.

However, it is possible that you will be migrated sooner if the infrastructure in your area breaks down, as faulty copper lines and telephone exchanges are not replaced.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Traditional phone services set to be phased out by 2025 (PA)Traditional phone services set to be phased out by 2025 (PA)

What will happen when I go digital?

Some phones may require an adapter, but others may just need to be installed in a new router.

However, older phones may need to be replaced, and it’s likely that vendors will come up with a new model, but that could come at a cost.

Upgrading to all-fiber services has more of an impact because the fiber-optic cables have to be installed all the way to your home.

An engineer visit will always be necessary to set up the service which will be connected using overhead or underground cables.

What if I don’t want digital service?

There is an option to have no phone line at all, as the providers will offer “broadband only” offers so that you can select a service that does not have a landline included.

Which? Also states: “Those who currently only have a landline will not be forced to pay for broadband services they don’t want or need.

“Their digital phone service will work using a special dedicated broadband connection and shouldn’t cost more than what they are paying now.”

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