Digital switchover

By 2025, analogue telephone services accessed by the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be switched off as the UK's telecoms infrastructure is upgraded to digital connectivity. This hub is intended to offer support throughout the switchover period.

What is the digital switchover? 

The way we communicate is changing. In 2016, it was announced that the telecommunications industry would replace all analogue lines and upgrade to digital internet-based infrastructure by 2025. This means analogue telephone services accessed by the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be switched off, as the UK'’s telecoms infrastructure is upgraded to digital connectivity. The new network will provide a future proof, more reliable and dependable broadband service that will support the UK for decades to come. 

Why is it happening? 

The PSTN is a privately-owned copper wired based telecoms network and the decision to upgrade it has been taken by the telecommunications industry. Fixed-line operators - such as Openreach, BT and Virgin MediaO2 - will replace analogue telephone services with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which carries voice calls as data using internet technology. The upgrade will be delivered by the telecoms industry in a phased approach over the next couple of years, with the UK network expected to be fully upgraded to VoIP services in 2025. The switchover will happen on a telephone exchange by exchange basis and not on a regional basis seen in relation to the switchover of analogue television. 

While the PSTN upgrade is an industry-led process, the Government, through the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) are working together to ensure consumers and sectors are protected and prepared for the upgrade process, including from a power resilience perspective. 

What are the implications? 

The switchover has implications for the telecare and TEC sector, and the 1.8 million people who rely on those services in the UK. This means anyone with telecare services will need to check how the switchover will affect them, and what they need to do to be ready, so their care isn’t disrupted. 

All traditional devices that connect to the PSTN, such as telephone handsets, ATM machines, traffic light management systems and telecare units, will need reconnecting, with some needing upgrading or replacing irrespective of what plans that telecare providers have to develop their service. 

Local government has a critical role to play in the digital switchover to implement the solutions required to support residents and prevent impact on day-to-day life. 

The digital switchover is fast approaching and will impact on a whole range of vital services, including in adult social care. Our survey shows that unless action is taken now to support councils to help their residents and suppliers with this change, we face the prospect of serious disruption to people’s lives, including most urgently those who use personal devices such as alarms and fall detectors to stay safe in their own homes"

Cllr Mark Hawthorne
LGA Digital Connectivity spokesperson 

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