Do I Need to Upgrade My Phoneline to Digital?

Analogue landlines have served UK homes and businesses for more than 100 years. However, it has always been somewhat fragile and advances in broadband and Internet capabilities mean that providers are planning to stop servicing analogue lines by 2025.

Changes Afoot

New phone lines, like Wildanet’s Phoneline+ service, will use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) rather than the existing Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and this will mean changes for users. Users will need routers, provided by the service provider and Older phones will also need to be upgraded to be VoIP compatible., Users with care alarms and other telemetry devices that connect directly to the phone line will also need hardware upgrading. In some cases, phone numbers may change. 

Many providers have already stopped selling analogue phone lines and more will follow suit in the next year or so. However, once users have switched to digital phones, there should be little discernible difference in how the phones work, they will just connect and transfer data differently.  


The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)

The Public Switched Telephone Network was introduced in Victorian times. It uses copper cables to carry data around the network. Since the PSTN was introduced, our communication needs have changed dramatically. As well as making calls on landlines, we now send and receive data via the Internet and other networks, which are increasingly using fibre optic cables. 


Fibre Optic

Fibre optic has greater bandwidth, which means it offers improved data transfer speeds and reliability for businesses and homes. With more and more devices connecting to the Internet and transferring larger volumes of data, the copper cables are beginning to show their age. Fibre cable is also tougher and can withstand potential damage from fire, physical damage, and electricity. 

The fibre cables used to transfer data over the Internet are also used to power Voice over Internet Protocol calls, which are referred to as digital calls, as opposed to the analogue calls of old.


The Change

Openreach has committed to ending its use of the PTSN by 2025, and a lot of other providers are following suit. This means that by 2025, users will need to have changed from their old equipment to more modern alternatives.

VoIP telephones connect to the router of your home, rather than through the phone socket. Some routers will need to be changed to allow VoIP telephone connections, although service providers should replace any obsolete equipment before the change happens. 

Phones themselves may also need to be changed so they are VoIP compatible, although it’s worth checking existing phones because some do offer this feature already, even if you aren’t using it. Users that have devices like burglar alarms or care alarms that connect directly to the phoneline will also need to be replaced or adapted.


Preparing To Upgrade 

The change from the old PTSN system to the new system is underway with most suppliers already moving new customers over to VoIP phones. 

New Hardware provided by suppliers is usually VoIP compatible, and most new models of phones and other devices have the same connectivity. However, old phones that do not have VoIP compatibility will become obsolete and consumers will need to upgrade to new digital phones.