The UK’s telephone network is being upgraded and landline services are changing. Thank you very much to local resident and technology expert Robert Sleaford from Henfield Computers for bringing this important subject to our attention. The following advice is reproduced with the permission of Age UK:
What is changing? – The landline analogue network is being replaced with newer digital technology called 'Voice over Internet Protocol' (VoIP). You may also hear this referred to as a digital landline. Digital landlines use an internet connection to make and receive calls. You'll need an internet connection at home to use the new landline digital system. Once you've moved to the new digital system your landline will mainly work as it always has, although there will be some differences (see below). If you already have a broadband connection then the new digital landline system will use this. But don't worry if you don't have broadband, your network provider will supply you with a connection to support the new digital landline system.
Why are these changes happening? - The current analogue landline network needs to be replaced because it's old and becoming difficult to maintain. The new digital landlines use the internet to make phone calls which offers better quality calls as well as some additional features.
When are these changes happening? - The changeover has started and some people have already been moved to the digital system. For most networks the changeover will have happened by December 2025. Providers will contact their customers ahead of the change to let them know when they'll be making the switch to a digital landline.
What happens when I change to the digital system? - Your telephone provider will contact you in advance to let you know when your system's changing and what you need to do. In some cases an engineer will need to visit to make changes. For the majority of people, the change will be straightforward. If you already have a broadband connection, you may just need to plug your phone into your broadband router or you'll be sent an adapter that connects to your phone and plugs into your router. If you have more than one phone socket with separate handsets, you may need additional adapters. When you're contacted by your provider let them know if you have any questions or concerns about moving to the digital service, or if you need any additional help.
Can I keep my phone number? – Yes, in most cases you’ll be able to keep your current phone number.
Will I need a new phone? - Nearly all existing handsets will work with the new system. But if you do need to change your handset, your phone provider will be able to advise you on this.
Will anything else be affected, like my telecare? - The switch to digital landlines may affect telecare devices and other equipment such as personal alarms and security alarms if they're connected to your phone line. You should contact your device supplier to check if your device will work with the new system or whether any equipment will need to be upgraded. Although your landline telephone provider will contact you before the switch takes place, you may want to let them know about any telecare devices that you have in advance. If you're buying a new device you should also check with the seller or manufacturer that this will be compatible.
Will my new phone contract be more expensive? - You shouldn’t face extra costs if you need a new simple internet connection to make calls.
What happens if there's a power cut? - A digital phone will only work in a power cut if it has a battery back-up, because it'll run using your home electricity. In these instances, phone companies are advising people to use mobile phones as a backup. If you're dependent on your landline phone (for example if you don’t have a mobile phone or you live somewhere where there’s no or poor mobile signal), then your telephone provider must offer you a 'resilience solution' free of charge to make sure you can make emergency calls during a power cut. This could be a mobile phone (if you have mobile signal) or a battery-backup unit that connects to your landline phone and provides power in case of a power outage.
Is there anything I should watch out for? - The switchover can create an opportunity for criminals to develop new scams. These scam attempts could happen over the phone, via email, or in person on your doorstep. Remember the following scam advice when someone's contacting you about the switchover:
• STOP – take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or your personal information.
• CHALLENGE – could it be fake? It's OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. You should never feel rushed or pressured into making a decision.
• PROTECT – contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam and report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.
Other unscrupulous people may also try to sell you equipment or get you to sign up to expensive contracts that you don’t need. In these cases it's important that you don't rush into making any decisions. You can always seek a second opinion and speak to your phone company who should be able to advise you about what you need.