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Changes to your landline

Published on 19 Sept 2023

The UK’s telephone network is transitioning from analogue to digital telephone lines. This upgrade means that the technology that powers your landline telephone is changing.

You'll still be able to use a landline telephone in your home, but the technology that powers it will be different. 

What you need to know

What's happening to landlines?

The current technology we use to make calls on landline phones, operates through copper wires using an analogue signal. This is now being replaced with a digital, internet-based version, which means that landline calls will connect to your broadband internet connection. These changes will impact everyone who has a landline phone that they would like to keep using.

The new network system is called an ‘IP network’. Once the switch over to the new network takes place, you’ll be able to continue making calls using your landline.

When is the switch happening?

The current telephone network will stop working by December 2025. These changes are being rolled out gradually from telephone providers, and some of the work on switching over to the new network has already started.

Why is this happening?

The equipment that makes the current landline network run, has been in use since the 1800s, and is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. It is no longer fit for the future and needs to be upgraded.

This change is being led by broadband and telephone providers. The Government and the communications regulator, Ofcom, are supporting it.

What does this mean for me?

Everyone who has a landline will move over to the new network, and your telephone service provider will get in touch about the changes and any steps you need to take.

For most people, all you’ll need to do is plug your existing landline phone into your broadband router or a new socket. However, if your phone handset is very old, you might need to upgrade it, and your phone provider can advise you about this. Some people also may need an upgraded broadband router.

When your provider does get in touch, make sure they are aware about your needs and circumstances. This might mean letting them know that you will need extra help to change over to the new system.

What if I don’t have internet at home?

As the new system runs off the internet, once your service is switched to the new network, you won’t be able to make or receive calls without an internet connection at home. Your provider will give you the option to use a simple internet connection just for making calls, rather than having to pay for high-speed services.

Will it cost me extra money?

Those who currently only have a landline won't be forced to pay for broadband services that they don't want or need. The digital phone service will work using a simple broadband connection and shouldn't cost any more than what you pay now.

The largest provider of landlines, BT, has committed to not raising prices above inflation for “voice only” customers – those who don’t have home broadband. This commitment stands for at least the next five years and means that your bill should not rise significantly and you shouldn’t face extra costs if you need a new simple internet connection to make calls.

What happens in a power cut?

The new system will be powered by your home electricity, so if there’s a power cut, it will mean that you are not able to make or receive calls. Telephone providers are advising that you should have a mobile phone as a backup.

If you don’t have a mobile phone, or if you live somewhere where there’s poor signal, or depend on your landline, for example, because you’re disabled, your telephone provider should offer you a solution like a battery-operated handset. This will mean that you can make emergency calls in a power cut.

Will my telecare device still work?

This switch may also affect telecare devices and personal alarms. Most modern devices should be compatible, but you may wish to contact the supplier of any telecare devices to check they will work with the new system or if they need to be upgraded.

Be aware of scammers

These changes are impacting homes all over the UK, which unfortunately can create opportunities for criminals to develop new scams.

Scammers might try to reach you over the phone, via email or even door-to-door. Don't be rushed into making any quick decisions.

If you're contacted about the switchover, and feel like something isn't right, think it over and get some advice. You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help.

Follow these key steps:

  • STOP – Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE – Could it be fake? It is ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush you.
  • PROTECT – Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud on 03001232040.

What happens next?

Your telephone provider will be in touch to help you get set up on the new network, so you don't need to take any action until they do.

For more information on changes to your landline, visit OfCom or the House of Commons Library.