Moving to a digital UK
At the moment, telephone calls are the only form of communication that haven't been part of the digital revolution. We're taking the next step in the UK's digital transformation and will be retiring the traditional analogue phone network, known as the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN, by the end of 2025.
The newer digital technologies we're rolling out across the UK will use the internet to carry all of your services, including phone calls. Giving the reliability, trust and familiarity of today’s analogue services while enabling exciting new features.
This isn't just happening in the UK, it's an international trend. Germany, Japan and Sweden are already in the process of upgrading to digital telephone services.
Trail blazing in Mildenhall
We announced Mildenhall as a trial site in 2019. Mildenhall was chosen as it’s a typical exchange area in terms of location, the mix of businesses and homes and the range of service providers (such as BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Zen etc) offering services.
The trial allows us and our service provider partners to develop and test the ways we upgrade you to new digital products and provide a smooth migration.
On 4 May 2021 we stopped selling copper broadband services in the Mildenhall area. This means that you if you upgrade, re-grade or change service provider you'll be provided with a new digital line.
If you're happy with your current services you don't need to do anything at the moment, your service provider will contact you when they're ready to migrate your line.
Not yet. Your service provider will contact you with more information when they're ready to migrate your line.
We're upgrading the network over the next five years, and aim to have the network fully upgraded by the end of 2025.
It may do. This depends on the services offered by your service provider. Check with them to see what number porting features they have available as part of the move to digital phone lines.
When you change over to a digital phone line all of the devices and services connected to your existing phone line will need to be able to work via a router. If you have anything connected to your phone line, like a care or security alarm, you'll need to check whether they'll work over the new technology. Most modern devices should be compatible, but if you use one of these devices it’s important that you speak with the company that supplied it to you.
If you don't have a router, or need a new one, your service provider will send one to you. You won't have to sign up for a broadband service and your service provider will be able to confirm whether the price you pay for your service will change.
Old corded phones are powered by your local telephone exchange and this will change when you move to a digital line. This means that if there’s a power cut you may have to do something different to make home phone calls during that time. There’s more advice on this below.
Protecting vulnerable customers is an absolute priority for us. We’re working with the service providers to identify vulnerable customers early on. Partnering with groups such as Citizens Advice, Help the Aged and Age UK to raise awareness of the change and make sure they have all the information and support they need.
And we’re working with the providers and manufacturers of equipment such as burglar alarms and care pendants to make sure that these critical services aren't affected as we upgrade our network.
The old technology has its own inbuilt power supply, but the new network will need to be powered from your home electricity. If there's a power cut this means that you won't be able to make or receive calls – just as if you have a cordless phone today.
Most people in the UK have a mobile phone, so the advice is to use this as a backup if there's a power cut.
Other solutions are available. If you’re about to move to the new service, please let your home phone provider know if any of the following apply:
· you live somewhere where there's little or no mobile coverage
· you're a vulnerable customer and rely on your home phone
· you don’t have a mobile phone.
If you plug other devices into your phone socket, like fax machines, healthcare alarms, burglar alarms and security systems and text-relay phones, these won't work over the phone line in a power cut. It’s really important that you tell your home phone provider and the company that supplied any device that currently plugs into the phone line so you know:
· Whether the device will work in a power cut
· whether that network and device will suit your own particular needs.
Ofcom has published some guidance which may be helpful.
We're in regular contact with Ofcom and the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2) about the upgrade of our phone and broadband network and we’ve shared our plans with them.
We’re talking with:
- the providers of Critical National Infrastructure, the emergency services, industry associations,
- groups that support vulnerable customers such as Citizens Advice, Help the Aged and Age UK, and
- providers and manufacturers of equipment such as burglar alarms and and care pendants
to raise awareness of the change and make sure that they have all the information and support they need so these critical services aren't affected as we upgrade our network.