Getting ready for 

digital phone lines

For businesses who use phone

lines to provide services

Welcome to the Openreach digital lines programme for industry

We define industry as anyone who sells, services or uses products that connect through the analogue telephone network.

Here you’ll find out about the programme and how it will affect you, your business and your clients. You may have also heard this referred to as all IP.

How does this affect my business or organisation that uses the analogue phone network to provide services to customers?

It’s likely that this change will affect anything that currently plugs into the existing analogue telephone wall sockets. This includes any equipment that you may provide to clients and customers or equipment they purchase to utilise the services you offer.

From now until the end of 2025, service providers like SKY, TalkTalk and BT, will need to contact all of their customers and make them aware that they’ll need to move their existing products and services that use the analogue phone network, from the wall socket, to the router.  This is because once a service provider migrates their customers from the current setup, to a digital phone line, the wall socket will only provide access to the internet and not the more traditional voice calls that currently use a landline.

In practice, once a customer has been moved to a digital phone line anything else plugged into the telephone wall socket may stop working, or need additional equipment to be purchased and plugged in to enable it to work.

What should I do now?

Now would be a great time take an inventory of what you use in your offices and which products and services you provide to your clients and customers and check to see if they’ll work, when lines migrate from analogue to digital ones.

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Frequently asked questions

  • The current network has been around for over 35 years and has served the country well, however the equipment in the telephone exchanges is now reaching end of life.

    Openreach are committed to providing fast broadband across the UK and this is best achieved by replacing the existing copper network with an Ultrafast Full Fibre digital network. Where Ultrafast Full Fibre is available, a digital phone service will be the only one that is provided.

    Where this isn't yet available Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA) will be provided.  This is a new product which enables people to order Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) without a phone line, the existing copper will remain in place from the premises to the street cabinet which will be connected to the exchange by fibre for faster broadband speeds. By the end of 2025 all telephone lines will need to be digital phones lines provided over the internet.

  • Digital phone lines mean that all calls and data are sent over the internet and that at least part of the network uses a fibre line.

  • Visit our Full Fibre pages to find out about the benefits of moving to Full Fibre.

  • Service providers will contact their customers when they’re going to migrate the telephone line and should give enough notice for customers to make any necessary changes, such as taking telephony equipment, e.g. DECT phones, telecare alarms, chip and pin machines, and connecting them directly to the router if the service provider offers such a service, or to purchase any new or additional equipment they may need. You may also need to subscribe to your service providers internet voice service, they will be able to advise you on what you need to do.

  • The best thing to do is contact the company that sold or maintains the equipment and ask them if it will work on a digital phone line. You can also check the equipment manufacturer's website.

    If you provide equipment which uses the telephone wall socket to access the network, it would be good for you to test your equipment at a test lab, which some service providers already offer. Openreach will also have its own test lab where you can test your equipment and find out what will work and what will need to be replaced.

  • Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) will remain our main offering unless Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is available. 

    Service providers will need to migrate the service to SoGEA, which continues to use the copper from the premises to the street cabinet and then fibre to the exchange. This means that voice calls and all other devices must work over the internet. A digital voice service, such as VoIP, would have to be ordered separately from a service provider, and customers may need to buy additional or new equipment.

  • By the end of 2025 analogue lines will be withdrawn and replaced by digital phone lines provided over FTTP and SoGEA, although there will always be exceptions in some areas, where specific needs remain. 

    As Service Providers need to migrate their customers to digital phone lines we've announced that from after September 2023, we won’t accept orders for new analogue lines and will limit what can be done to existing lines.  This action is called “stop sell”. 

    To minimise the number of analogue lines being added to the network, when a telephone exchange can provide FTTP to 75% of the premises it serves we’ll stop selling analogue services in that area and reject those orders. This has already started to happen, so far we've announced that we’ll stop selling copper products in 220 locations by January 2022. Every quarter we’ll let service providers know which telephone exchanges, and areas, will go into the “stop sell” category. We’ll always give the industry 12 months’ notice before a telephone exchange is put into this category. Stop-sell covers new supply, working line take-overs (such as moving house), changing service provider, restarting stopped lines, upgrading to a higher bandwidth package and contract changes.

  • So far we've announced that we’ll stop selling copper products in 220 locations by January 2022. We’ve announced these locations, because we know they’ll be at over 75% of full fibre coverage on the dates shown on our downloadable list.

Resources

Industry slides

WLR withdrawal newsletter

All-IP FAQs

Contact us

Getting ready for digital phone lines