Questions about the analogue digital phone upgrade

BT is moving all its customers from the old analogue public switched telephone network (PSTN) to a fully digital network. They’ve already started and plan to move everyone by 2025. Below we answer some questions you might have about this transition.

About the upgrade

When are BT analogue phone lines being switched off?

Your telephone provider will let you know when this is happening and you won’t need to do anything about your phone service until then. The new digital service is called ‘Digital Voice’ and some customers have already moved from analogue to the new fully digital network. Telephone landlines will still exist, and you can still have a landline telephone at home. It is the network that the phone uses that will be different.

What is Digital Voice? 

Digital Voice services are the future of landlines – they work using broadband connections rather than copper phone lines. You may also hear digital voice services referred to as ‘VoIP’, ‘IP voice’ and other branded versions such as ‘Sky Voice’ or ‘TalkTalk Voice’.

Why is this upgrade happening?

The existing copper lines are now old and becoming increasingly unreliable and expensive. The switchover is happening due to the demand for faster networks and connectivity. Alongside this, broadband connections rely increasingly on fibre optic networks. As well as the infrastructure benefits, it also offers benefits such as clearer calls, the ability to make multiple calls simultaneously and the possibility of accessing your landline in other locations. In time, it will also allow telephone providers to develop tools to better protect their customers against scam and nuisance calls.

When will my phone line be replaced?

This depends on your telephone provider. There are over 14 million lines in the UK that need to be upgraded so it’s going to take a while. For homes that already have a telephone line, your service provider will contact you when they’re ready to do your line. If you want to find out more, you should contact your telephone provider.

Will this cost me more?

No. There should be no change to your plan or bill, and your number won’t change either. But discuss with your telephone service provider if you have concerns.

Will I need the internet to make a phone call?

The new digital telephone network will be internet-based (called an ‘IP network’). This means you won’t be able to make calls without an internet connection at home. If you already have broadband, then this network will be used. If you don’t have broadband then your telephone provider will provide a simple internet connection just for making calls.

What new equipment will I need after the digital upgrade?

Your telephone provider will send you a digital hub (if you do not already have one) that you will need to connect your phone to. Any other equipment, like a personal alarm, will also need to be connected to the digital hub. You may also need to replace your telephone handset, although your telephone provider can advise on this.

Can I use my old phone with BT Digital Voice?

This will depend on your handset. Many people will simply plug their phone into the new digital hub or broadband router. If your telephone is an old model, you may need to replace it.

If I have digital installed, will my telephone number change?

No, your telephone number will remain the same.

Do I have to change over to digital?

Telephone customers who are considered vulnerable can be excluded from the upgrade, however analogue lines will no longer be maintained after 2025 so this should not be considered a permanent solution. You would need to contact your telephone provider to arrange this.

How reliable are digital phone lines?

Digital phone lines have been used by businesses for years and you shouldn’t notice any difference at all, apart from if you try to use your digital phone line in a power cut. Analogue landline phones receive power from the telephone line, separately to the mains electricity supply. Digital phones use a router or hub so will not work in a power cut unless there is a backup power supply.

How can I tell if I already have BT Digital Voice?

If you have been upgraded to a digital phone line, your telephone provider will have notified you in advance. Your telephone will be connected to a broadband router or digital hub, rather than directly into a telephone socket.

Do digital phones work in a power cut?

No, because digital phones work off your home electricity supply, if there’s a power cut you won’t be able to make calls. If you are vulnerable your telephone provider may be able to provide you with a battery backup so that you can make emergency calls during a power cut.

Will Caller ID work with Digital Voice?

Many calling features are included in Digital Voice at no extra costs and enabled by default. This includes Caller Display so you can see the number of the person calling. Voicemail, call waiting, call diversion, call barring and BT Call Protect (a service to block nuisance calls) are also included.

Can I block phone numbers with Digital Voice?

Yes. Call barring is enabled automatically with Digital Voice.

Will my line still be crackly with Digital Voice?

No, call quality with a digital phone line should be at least as good as an analogue line.

Will I need a new router?

You may need a new or upgraded router but if that is the case, it should be provided by your telephone provider.

Do I need strong Wi-Fi for digital call?

No, digital calls are not impacted by Wi-Fi strength because the telephone handset is connected to the digital hub/router.

What does PSTN mean?

PSTN stands for ‘public switched telephone network’ – it’s the copper phone network that delivers analogue landline phone services. The plan is for it to be switched off at the end of 2025 and for all landline services to be offered digitally.

About your personal alarm

Will my personal alarm still work after the BT digital upgrade?

If you have a digital personal alarm that does not connect to a telephone landline then your personal alarm service will be unaffected. If your alarm connects to an exisiting telephone socket then it is analogue and may be affected by the upgrade.

How do I know what type of device I have – analogue or digital

Many of the personal alarm devices in the UK are analogue but many customers are now going through the process of changing to digital. If you are unaware of the type you have then please feel free to contact our Customer Services team for support and we can assist and provide options if required.
If you have base units that look like option A below it is already digital and you will not need to do anything. If you have a base units that look like option B below then you have an analogue unit. Analogue vs digital base units

Will I need to change my personal alarm device if it’s analogue? 

In some situations you won’t need to change your device. Some of our customers already have digital capable telecare alarms. However, some do not. Industry testing has identified that analogue telecare devices can fail a percentage of the time over the new networks and these failures can take shape in many different forms. Therefore the safest option (that is recommended by communication suppliers and providers like ourselves) is that it would more reliable to use a digital device.

Will I have to pay more for a digital device?

Possibly yes. This is dependent on the device you currently have and the service we deliver to you currently. Technology as a whole has increased in price in the last 12 months due to the nationwide increase in components and associated shortages. As a business we will try and prevent passing these costs onto our customers but it’s not always possible. If there is a requirement to change your monthly cost we will communicate this with you beforehand.

Please be assured however that if there is a price increase that the benefits of digital devices are that they provide security, speed, future proofing, remote maintenance capabilities and much more.

If you are an existing customer, you can upgrade to a digital unit it costs £20 per month and we will not charge you the normal £50 set up fee.

If my telecare device needs to be changed will someone pay me a visit to install it?

Digital technology decreases the need for physical visits, as it is much easier to set up via ‘plug and play’ and issues can also be resolved remotely in many cases. We offer a self-set up postal option where the device is simply plugged in and tested by you or a helpful relative/friend, if you have an old device it can be sent back to us in a reply paid envelope. Alternatively if you do need engineer support to set up we can offer this in certain areas at an additional cost.