Deadline extended for the switch from analogue to digital telephone lines

BT extends deadline for UK switch to digital telephone lines to 2027. What will this change mean for those living and working in rural areas?
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BT has announced that the deadline for the switch from analogue to digital telephone lines has been extended from 31 December 2025 to 31 January 2027.

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) programme aims to replace all analogue telephone lines with digital connections. The main reason for replacing the present telephone system is that it is no longer fit for purpose and requires significant upgrading. By making this change, it will mean that in the future phone calls will be made over the internet.

However, the change has been beset with problems. There have been technical issues relating to making the switch work, concerns over how this would affect vulnerable groups and questions as to whether consumers who have no access to a digital broadband connection would be forced to switch and lose their analogue telephone lines.

The impact on rural areas

After extensive discussions with BT, the CLA has finally received assurances that backups will be provided in the event of power outages. We have also received clarification that those who do not yet have access to a digital connection will not be switched until they have the ability to use the new system.

It was inevitable that the programme would have to be delayed. Ever since it was decided by BT to change to a digital system, there have been breakdowns in communication with those in rural areas directly affected. There was growing concern that vulnerable groups would be severely disadvantaged, and it was only the result of CLA lobbying that BT agreed to create the Digital Voice Advisory Group to help assist in delivering the programme.

Now, common sense has prevailed, as the programme will evolve rather than be haphazardly implemented – a relief for many of those who live and work in rural areas. Although the decision to extend the deadline has come late in the day, it is necessary, and news of the extended deadline will provide much needed certainty for rural communities.

Mission six: a fully connected countryside

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