We’re changing our telephone network to adapt for a digital future

As part of the move to a full fibre broadband infrastructure, the technology used within the UK broadband and telephony network is changing, as it is in most countries around the world. In 2018, the UK Government recognised - as part of The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review – that after decades in use for both voice and data services the UK Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), was coming to the end of its life and would need to be replaced with newer technologies.

What's going to happen?

To ensure our networks are fit for the future, work has been underway for over a decade to build modern and reliable digital networks that can support both broadband and landline services. 

By the end of 2025, the current copper based PSTN network used for decades for calls and data services will be replaced fully by digital networks that carry data traffic using Internet Protocol (IP networks). In these new networks a telephone call is becoming just another data application using IP technology. The switch will mean networks are easier to maintain, provide a better service for customers and underpin new digital services for homes and businesses.

What will it mean for our customers?

By September 2023, we won’t be connecting new telephone lines to the traditional PSTN phone network and as early as 2020 new customers will receive telephone services via IP, which carries calls over a broadband connection.

Once the service is available in your area, you will need to begin using IP services. In most cases, the switch will simply require you to reconnect your telephone equipment through your broadband router rather than into the wall, however if your hardware is not compatible, you’ll need to contact us so that we can arrange an engineer appointment.   

  • If you are a customer of BT, Plusnet or EE, don’t worry! We’ll be getting in touch directly to keep you updated on the upgrade of your fixed telephone services. Find more information on BT’s Digital Voice service.  

  • If you are a business, charity or public sector customer, the process of switching to IP Services will be gradual. We’ll give plenty of notice regarding any changes to your service and work closely with you to find the IP service that best suits your needs. 

    As well as traditional phonelines, PSTN networks support several other services including alarm systems, traffic lights and ATMs. A wide number of companies will be impacted by this and may need to start to prepare for this switch-over now. If you have devices connected to your telephone line, check with the manufacturer or service provider that they will still work on BT’s IP Voice network. Many devices that currently run over telephone lines will work perfectly over modern IP networks. However, some equipment will need to be tested to ensure they are compatible.

    If you are a manufacturer or provider of ‘special services’, you can visit our Digital Services testing facility at the BT Labs to evaluate your equipment. To book an appointment please visit our ‘Special Services’ site. 

Trials

Pilots are being run in two exchange areas to trial the systems and processes for the service migration for all customers.  

Customers using services in Salisbury and Mildenhall exchange areas will be amongst the first in the UK to benefit from the changeover to IP technology. In Salisbury, a Full Fibre broadband network was built out across the city in just under a year, reaching more than 20,000 homes and businesses.  

All traditional telephone and broadband products that rely on the PSTN will be withdrawn from sale in Salisbury from December 2020 and Mildenhall in May 2021 (although we will of course continue to support existing lines).  

All traditional WLR products will be withdrawn for these exchanges by December 2022, with customers moving to new IP products.