The United Kingdom will shut down its copper-based landline phone network in 2025 in favor of broadband-connected solutions.
The complex move will involve shutting down Britain’s public switched telephone network (PSTN) to a fully-digital network that leverages Internet Protocol (IP) technology to handle land-based phone calls.
All residents and businesses that rely on land-based phone service will be impacted by the move, BT Group (formerly British Telecom) affirmed. The change will also impact some devices that traditionally rely on older land-based services, including fax machines, alarm systems and health monitoring products.
Telecom officials in Britain say the older copper network that has connected residential and business phone users for decades is too expensive to maintain at a time when better products are on the market, including fiber-based broadband solutions.
“The PSTN is increasingly out of kilter with the demands of modern communication,” a spokesperson for BT Group said in a public notice affirming the change. “As people switch to mobile and internet communications, everyone demands much more than the traditional technologies were designed to deliver. Which is why we’re switching to IP. It’s now time to leap forward from PSTN to embrace the boundless possibilities of digital.”
BT Group says some countries in Europe like Estonia and the Netherlands have already shut off their PSTN in favor of broadband solutions, while telecoms in Germany and Sweden are ahead of the curve in winding down their older networks.
Customers who already have broadband services or connections in their homes or businesses can simply migrate over to the new landline phone platform, while those who need broadband connections should contact BT Group, Virgin Media or their local phone company for assistance.
One thing that won’t change is how much customers will pay for their service. “As customers will still be able to use their landline service, they will not see a reduction in their bills,” a spokesperson for Virgin Media said in a statement. Officials at BT Group also said they don’t intend to lower the cost of landline phone service once the switch is completed.
The deadline for moving the entire country over to broadband-based landline phone service is December 2025, though BT Group and Virgin Media have already started to push new customers toward digital phone service.