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The Copper Switch Off: What You Need To Know

Landline Switch-off: Will your electronic equipment continue to work?

Landline phone connections are going from copper to fibre optic. This affects your business as your electronic items – which could be connected to your landline connections - may stop working if you are not ready for the copper switch offer. You need to check to ensure your equipment continues working.


So - what is happening?

  • The move away from the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to modern, all-digital connectivity is a once-in-a-generation upgrade to the UK’s communications infrastructure. It’s taking place because the ageing legacy phone network is no longer fit for purpose.
  • At the end of next year, the outdated technology that has supported phone and other PSTN-connected services for decades will be retired – and businesses will switch on to a newer, digital network (or All-IP), opening the door to smarter ways of working and providing a better service for customers. 
  • Countries like Germany and Norway are way ahead of the UK in the move to All-IP, while The Netherlands and Estonia have already switched off their PSTN networks.
  • BT Group is working closely with Government, Ofcom, telecoms providers and key industry groups, to support customers of all types as they prepare to make the switch.


How will this affect me?

You may have out of date electronic equipment which may not work if it is based on copper connections. Equipment which could be affected includes:

  • Security cameras and CCTV systems 
  • Industrial control systems 
  • Building management systems 
  • Remote metre reading systems 
  • Industrial and commercial gate entry systems
  • Telemetry 
  • Automated process control systems for water treatment plants 
  • Burglar alarms 
  • Fax machines 
  • Telecare devices 
  • Lift alarms 
  • Traffic light systems 
  • Credit card machines 
  • Point-of-sale (POS) terminals 
  • Franking machines 
  • Vending machines 
  • Intercom systems 
  • Fire alarm systems 
  • ATM machines 


What should I do to ensure my equipment continues working?

There is a free service to check whether your equipment will continue working; you can go to Test Lab and you will find a list of free services to help you check that your equipment works with fibre optic cabling.


So – why is this is happening again? 

  • Very simply, the PSTN is a network of copper wires that’s historically connected landlines and other devices (like fax machines). Any devices running over the PSTN need to be physically connected to the network to work.
  • The PSTN has been the foundation of the UK’s telephone network for over 60 years, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, unreliable and prone to faults.
  • All-IP (or All Internet-Protocol) is a next-generation network, built for a digital future. All sorts of devices can connect to the network via broadband or ethernet. If business customers need to make and receive calls using this tech, they can add an IP Voice service.
  • BT offers a variety of All-IP services available to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes – from the smallest to the largest, and to other communications providers via our Wholesale division.


Why do businesses need to change?

  • It’s almost the end of the line for the PSTN. As of September 2023, there are now no new connections to PSTN (or ISDN) networks, and from December 2025 this technology will be decommissioned. Businesses need to act now to be ready for what’s coming next.
  • Investing in a fully digital UK network is a government-backed, industry-wide programme designed to futureproof communications for everyone. It helps businesses unify their communications platforms, so their people can collaborate better and work together more productively.
  • What’s more, the digital switch-over provides businesses with the opportunity to better manage their connectivity infrastructure, allowing them to save money by consolidating systems, simplifying billing, and reducing admin. It opens the door to tailored, future-ready solutions that can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and technologies, such as, to take one example, Fusion CallSwitch – a VoIP (Voice over IP) solution that combines all the features of a traditional phone system with the flexibility of the cloud.


So – this isn’t this just about landlines?

No. Businesses use PSTN lines for more than just making and receiving calls. Many different devices could be connected: from alarms through to chip and pin machines. The majority of these will need to be upgraded to IP-enabled devices before December 2025 or they’ll stop working.


Ok – what should I do again?

You can go to Test Lab and you will find a list of free services to help you check that your equipment works with fibre optic cabling.