What is the digital phone 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.
This means services that rely on the old landline system will be switched over – this may include:
- Home phones (traditional landline)
- Amplified phones (for those with hearing loss)
- Personal telecare products
- Fall and motion detectors
- Portable healthcare devices such as ECG or oxygen monitors
How will it affect me/what do I need to do?
The good news is – your landline isn’t going anywhere and for most customers, this change will be straightforward. In fact, many customers are already making the switch when they upgrade to full fibre broadband.
Your telecoms provider such as Virgin Media O2 or BT should contact you before the switchover to check in and discuss what you need to do to make sure your service isn’t affected. However, we’re encouraging everyone to know what to expect.
If you have an internet connection, the change may be as simple as plugging your phone into your broadband router rather than the socket on the wall. Some people have been encouraged to sign-up for full broadband internet packages that they don’t need – telecoms providers must provide limited broadband services to carry phone calls to people who do not need full internet access.
If you have other devices connected to your phone line, such as alarm systems, your alarm service provider might need to upgrade your device to make sure it is compatible. If you are unsure about how a device in your home might be affected, it is recommended you contact the equipment supplier or device manufacturer to find out whether it will still work on a digital phone line.
Do you or someone you know depend on their landline and/or use a telecare device connected to a phone line such as a fall monitor, lifeline or personal alarm?
If yes, then please notify the provider of this service now so that they can advise on how the switch might affect the service of the devices or home phone.
When is this happening?
The switchover is due to be completed by December 2025, but the programme is being rolled out region-by-region so won’t happen all at once. You don’t need to do anything until your phone service provider contacts you to tell you your service is changing, so don’t worry if nothing has happened yet.
In an emergency
Digital landlines cannot carry a power connection, so in the event of a power cut they will not work. If you have a mobile phone this can still be used, but if you’ve no other means of calling the emergency services your telecoms provider will offer a solution to allow calls to be made to emergency services.
You should tell your telecoms provider now if you have no other way of making emergency calls.
Beware of scams
The digital switchover will affect millions of homes and may provide unscrupulous people with an opportunity to create new scams via phone, e-mail or in person. Some may try to sell you equipment, sign you up to new contracts you don’t need or to obtain personal information from you. Be on your guard, don’t feel pressured or rushed into committing to anything, especially where money is involved, and challenge anything that raises even the slightest suspicion.