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What is the PSTN switch off and what does it mean for my landline phone?

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Britain’s analogue phone network is scheduled to be switched off by 31 December 2025. The retirement of the decades-old service will affect homeowners even if they no longer use a landline phone.

Not sure what the public switched telephone network (PSTN) switch off means for you? Read our guide to find out how the switch off affects your landline as well as your asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband.

What is the PSTN switch off?

The PSTN is following the same route as analogue TV. Openreach, which runs the PSTN’s copper cable network, plans to shut the service down by the end of 2025. The nationwide project will affect all UK homes and businesses.

The service is going digital, and UK homes will switch to a digital Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, which means your home phone will run via your broadband network. VoIP is an entirely digital service that uses your broadband connection to transmit calls – in the same way that WhatsApp video calls do, for example.

Why are landlines being phased out?

In short, Openreach is replacing the service to provide a faster and more reliable connection for UK homes.

The copper phone lines have been in use since the 1800s. As impressive as that is, the analogue system has reached its end of life. To keep up with the demands of the digital age, phone services will soon be delivered via the superfast full fibre network.

As of December 2023, 57 per cent of UK homes have access to full fibre broadband, according to Ofcom1. Ninety-one per cent of Northern Ireland’s households can access full fibre compared with just 56 per cent of homes in England.

The UK government has set a target to make gigabit broadband available to 85 per cent of the UK by 2025 – and nationwide by 2030. This type of broadband can reach speeds of up to 1,000 gigabits per second and is delivered via full fibre.


When will landlines be phased out?

  • The PSTN switch off is scheduled to take place by 31 December 2025
  • Digital Voice or VoIP will take over from 1 January 2026


In December 2023, “Stop Sell” came into effect, which means Openreach no longer accepts new order requests for broadband or PSTN services that use the old copper wire network.

What does the PSTN switch off mean for me?

The PSTN switch off means your landline will no longer be able to run via the copper wire network. You’ll still be able to take out a broadband and phone contract, but it will run via a digital phone line.

Some broadband companies, such as Plusnet, have already begun the switching process. If you don’t have access to Openreach’s digital broadband network by 2025, you’ll have the option to add a digital phone line to your existing broadband service.

What about my landline phone?

Most customers can keep their existing phone numbers when switching to Digital Voice. In some cases, however, that isn’t possible – for example if you change providers before you have a digital phone plan or if you move to a new address.

When migrating to the digital service, you may require an adapter, but some phones can be plugged directly into the back of the broadband router. In some instances, older phones may need to be replaced entirely. If you’re unsure, ask your provider whether you can keep your existing phone.

What about my broadband?

There are various types of broadband, two of which use the old copper phone line network: ADSL and FTTC.

If your current broadband service is delivered via the copper phone line network, you’ll need to switch to a full fibre broadband package – also known as FTTP broadband.


Both FTTP and FTTC connections use fibre optic cables. The main difference is that FTTC only uses fibre optic cables to your nearest street cabinet and then delivers internet to your home via the old copper network, while FTTP solely runs on fibre cables to deliver internet directly into your home.

Some providers, such as Virgin Media, KCOM, Community Fibre and Hyperoptic, don’t use the Openreach network. This means you’re most likely already connected to a non-PSTN broadband service – usually a full fibre connection or cable broadband.

What about other devices that use the PSTN?

Some other services use the PSTN. If you own a business, check if your payment devices and CCTV use the copper network. You may also find that your home security system uses the PSTN. We suggest contacting your broadband provider before making the switch to digital, to see how it can accommodate your needs.

What if I don’t have a broadband connection?

If you don’t currently have a broadband connection and have no desire to get one, you won’t need to pay for unwanted services. According to Ofcom2, your provider should supply a VoIP service without the additional cost of a broadband service, so you’ll be given the option to switch to a “line only” broadband service.

Will switching cost more?

Switching to digital voice shouldn’t cost you any more than you currently pay for your landline. Most providers have promised to maintain similar prices for customers switching from an analogue plan to a VoIP one.

However, if your current broadband plan is ADSL or FTTC, you’ll need to switch to a full fibre deal. This will certainly cost more than a basic broadband connection that runs on the old copper wire network.

Even though fibre broadband will cost you more, most providers offer a basic affordable package. You can use our postcode checker to find affordable broadband in your area.


What will happen to my phone line in a power cut?

In the event of a power cut, VoIP won’t work without a power source. For most customers with a mobile phone, this won’t be an issue, but if you don’t own a mobile phone, you may have no way to seek help in an emergency.


Providers have agreed to implement ways for households to contact emergency services during power outages, including supplying customers with a battery backup that lasts for around one hour, or a 4G or 5G backup.


Providers have also committed to conducting additional checks for customers with telecare and to working with Ofcom and the UK government to agree on a shared definition of “vulnerable people”, establishing an industry-wide standard.


  1. Ofcom, Full-fibre broadband reaches more than 17 million UK homes.
  2. Ofcom, Moving landline phones to digital technology: what you need to know.

PSTN switch off FAQs

It’s unlikely you’ll need to purchase a new phone. Your phone will still work after the switchover – it will just connect to your broadband. To do this, most phones will require an adapter, which should be supplied by your service provider.

VoIP calls shouldn’t affect your broadband speed. VoIP calls take up very little bandwidth, so users shouldn’t notice any drop in speed. However, this will also depend on the type of broadband connection you have and its average speed.

Yes, some existing telecare devices will work with digital phone lines, while others must be replaced. To prepare for this switch, BT and Openreach have worked closely with telecare providers, giving them access to test telecare devices to check if they work with digital phone lines. Your telecare provider should let you know if you’ll need replacement devices.

Rachel Sadler new profile April 2024

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.