UK transition from analogue to digital landlines
All communications in the UK must change as the equipment in telephone exchanges is unsustainable given its age and limitations.
As part of a global drive for consumers and businesses to have access to digital online services via Broadband and other new services, over 14 million analogue lines will be withdrawn and replaced by digital phone lines.
All services are upgrading from the traditional telephone system, known as PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), to a new ultra fast fibre based service which uses the Internet Protocol (IP) known as ‘All IP’.
This change is already underway. Openreach, one of the UK’s largest digital network providers, is committed to providing fast broadband nationwide by replacing the existing analogue network with an Ultrafast Full Fibre digital network.
Where Ultrafast Full Fibre is the only network available, a digital phone service will be the only telephone service available to you.
When you migrate your home to the new digital service your traditional telephone connection, including your intruder alarm, may no longer be able to send signals to alert anyone.
When will the PSTN switch-off complete?
The transition to digital has already begun in some areas and Openreach will complete the nationwide switch-off by December 2025. To help Openreach prepare, analogue phone lines stopped being sold to new customers in September 2023.
For most, upgrading to a digital service will be straightforward and your phone service will be delivered over the internet, similar to Zoom or Skype.
To achieve this ‘digital’ transition, telephone providers such as BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk, EE, K Com, Vodafone, etc, are starting to offer new services and you may be contacted about these as they become available.
How does this affect my alarm system?
Changing to a digital phone line means your traditional telephone wall socket will no longer provide a phone line and all of the devices and services connected to it will need to work via a router. Some routers may allow you to plug your existing analogue phone handset into the back of them.
If not, you may need to be provided with, or buy, additional equipment. When you switch, your service provider should advise what you need to do.
If you have other devices or services connected to your existing phone line such as an alarm system that connects to an alarm receiving centre or other remote service, there is a possibility it may be affected by these changes. Some alarm systems that use analogue telephone lines may not continue to work on the new digital service, whilst others may do so with some minor modifications.
It is likely your alarm system will need reconnecting to the new phone service after it has changed. The security systems sector is well aware of all the changes and NSI approved installers are already working to ensure the ongoing security of domestic properties is not compromised.
Whether you are approached by your telephone provider to upgrade your phone service or voluntarily decide to upgrade to a faster fibre based broadband service, you should contact your alarm/maintenance provider before your line is upgraded to check whether your alarm system requires adaptation or replacement, to ensure compatibility with the new IP network.
- If your alarm system provider approaches you to upgrade your system, make sure you receive a detailed quote from them explaining why the change is necessary.
- Not all alarm systems will be affected by the change and it may not be necessary to replace or upgrade your system
- Always check that any proposed changes will be ‘compatible’ with the new digital services
- Choose a professional alarm system provider approved by an independent UKAS accredited Certification Body such as NSI.
Find out more from Openreach and OFCOM:
For further information on the switchover, The British Security Industry Association, in partnership with industry bodies including NSI, have produced an FAQ leaflet for homeowners and useful guidance and top tips:
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