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The Copper Landline Switch Over - What do you need to know?

Electrical pylons in front of a sunset.

What is the copper switch off and when will it happen?

As of December 2025, BT Openreach will fully retire the old copper landlines that have been the foundation of the UK’s telephone system for decades. 

 Traditionally landlines have been delivered through an analogue network, but this is set to be replaced by digital technology. This new system is called VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, you may also hear this being talked about using the terms Digital Voice or digital phone – they all mean the same thing, the switch to a faster internet-based network. 

 VoIP is a phone system that uses internet connection to make and receive calls. To use this new system, you will need an at-home internet connection, which BT are planning to roll out across UK homes within the next few years. The switch to the new digital landline has already begun and is giving the people of the UK fast broadband. This is stated to be completed by 2025, on a region-by-region basis to allow for a smooth transition. If you haven't been moved over yet, don't worry – your phone company will get in touch with you when they want you to make the change.

What happens if there's a power cut?

We all remember ringing up the neighbours during a power cut to borrow some candles or to rant about the dinner being ruined. The traditional landlines aren’t affected by power cuts as they operate on a different system. However, the new digital phones will only work in a power cut if is has a battery back-up, because it primarily uses your home electricity to run. In these instances, phone companies are advising people to use mobile phones as a backup. 

 If you're dependent on your landline phone – for example, if you don’t have a mobile phone or live somewhere where there’s no or poor mobile signal, then your telephone provider must offer you a 'resilience solution' to make sure you can make emergency calls during a power cut. This could be a mobile phone (if you have mobile signal) or a battery-backup unit for your landline phone. 

 This resilience solution should be provided free of charge to people who are dependent on their landline. If you're not eligible for a free resilience solution, you may be able to purchase one from your provider or another retailer – talk to your provider about the options available to you.

What if you don’t want the switchover to happen? You can also sign the petition to raise awareness and help stop the switchover happening.

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