BT Delaying PSTN Switch Off to 2027

BT Group has announced a two-year delay in the shutdown of all copper-based phone lines across the UK, now set for 2027 instead of the original 2025 deadline.

The telecommunications company made this announcement in their full year report, explaining that the extension is intended to enhance the transition process to “better protect vulnerable customers and those with additional needs, including telecare users.”

Initially, BT had aimed to deactivate its Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by December 2025. According to BT, this postponement will affect both business and consumer customers.

BT stated that the decision aligns with its goal to provide full fibre broadband to 25 million premises by 2026. The company confirmed that its subsidiary, Openreach, has so far reached 14 million premises.


Why Is the Landline Switch Off Necessary?


The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) has been the backbone of communication in the UK since the 1880s. This network, built on copper lines, is becoming increasingly fragile and expensive to maintain. Additionally, it is now evident that the traditional network cannot cope with the growing data demands of modern users, necessitating a more robust connectivity system.

As a result, the analogue switch-off will permanently retire both the PSTN and the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). These will be replaced by fully digital lines, aimed at delivering a more efficient and reliable network for connectivity.


Why Is the Switch Off Delayed?


BT had originally scheduled the switch-off for December 2025. However, transitioning on such a large scale involves significant complexities. As more users and organisations have adopted digital services, various issues have emerged.

A major concern is the potential impact on those dependent on telecare support, a monitoring service for elderly, disabled, and vulnerable individuals living alone.

Digital services are more susceptible to outages compared to copper connectivity. This raises the risk for vulnerable or elderly users, whose lives could be endangered during a power cut or shortage if their telecare systems rely solely on digital lines.

The delay in the analogue switch-off will provide telecare providers and local authorities additional time to upgrade their services and ensure vulnerable individuals are adequately supported in the event of an outage.

What BT Had To Say About the Delay


“The urgency for switching customers onto digital services grows by the day because the 40-year-old analogue landline technology is increasingly fragile,” said Howard Watson, BT Group’s chief security and networks officer. “Managing customer migrations from analogue to digital as quickly and smoothly as possible, while making the necessary provisions for those customers with additional needs, including telecare users, is critically important.”

“Our priority remains ensuring this is done safely, and the work we’re doing with our peers, local authorities, telecare providers, and key government organisations is crucial. However, more needs to be done, and we need all local authorities and telecare providers to share with us the phone lines where they know there’s a telecare user.”

Last year, BT and Sky agreed to halt the forced switchover to digital lines following multiple reports of issues with telecare devices.