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The ISDN and PSTN Switch off 5

This page provides an overview of what the Digital Switchover is, what providers need to do, and where they can seek support from.

*Important Update [16.05.2024]*

On 16 May 2024, BT Group announced that they are pushing back the original date of the switchover to 31 January 2027. BT has outlined to service providers (Sky, TalkTalk etc.,) should continue migrating from copper to fibre at pace (where it is safe to do so).  Specifically on vulnerable individuals it has been outlined:

A new ‘Prove Telecare’ service is being developed to help ensure telecare devices still work after an engineering visit to upgrade an end customer to a digital service. This service will be trialled in the second half of 2024. They have updated their FAQs regarding the PSTN switch-off reset, in the first instance please check here.

In December 2023 at Care England’s Digital Special Interest Group (DSIG), care providers highlighted the need for the digital switchover to become a priority for the digital agenda, particularly regarding the need for an educational campaign. The resulting priority was established (view our full list of priorities for 2024 here):

To work with sector partners to help prepare care providers for the digital switchover in 2025 (now 2027). Care providers need to be best placed to transform their services, including the allocation of resources, the maturing of digital skills and the maintenance of infrastructure.

Care England has partnered with Orbital Net to raise awareness about the Digital Switchover that is set to conclude in December 2025 (now January 2027). Orbital Net, have launched a support campaign Connectivity Within the Care Sector to raise further awareness and support for the sector. The Orbital Net team are happy to arrange a free consultation to discuss your internet and phone setup, so you are confident that you are ready for the switch off.

What is the Digital Switchover?

The Digital Switchover, also referred to as the ISDN and PSTN Switch-Off is the process of retiring all analogue (copper wire used within the landline phone network) devices, to digital. Organisations, including adult social care providers, have until December 2025 (now January 2027) to transfer their analogue systems to digital. If you do not complete the move, and upgrade your systems to digital, you will lose access to these devices and they will be unusable.

Time left to PSTN switch-off








The Digital Switchover: Care Provider Support Page Timeline Image
The Digital Switchover: Care Provider Support Page Timeline Image

Digital Switchover FAQ

What is an analogue system?

Analogue systems use copper wire. These systems are often referred to as telecare and can include alarms and motion sensors. However, essential infrastructure systems used in care settings, such as emergency alarms in lifts, telephone landlines, and CCTV are often analogue too. These will be need to be transferred to digital.

Can I wait  till 2025 (now January 2027)?

Whilst the complete shut down of analogue isn’t until December 2025 (now January 2027), now is the time to act! It can take up to 6 months to complete a full transfer services to digital. As we get closer to the deadline, more organisations (and not just care services) will be seeking to transfer their systems, so internet and broadband suppliers will be facing an overwhelming demand.

Will the switch-off be all at once?

No. There are certain parts of the country are already transferring over from analogue to digital. Speak to your broadband supplier to learn if your region is transferring before December 2025 (now January 2027).

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a telephony system that enables an organisation to make voice calls using internet connection (digital) instead of a regular phone line (analogue). Please see our jargon buster that breaks down the abbreviations.

What are the benefits from switching to VoIP?

The main impact will be long-term cost savings. VoIP can be extremely cost effective, with organisations saving up to £456 per year. Moving your phone system to digital can save further money, as there will be no need for line rental and associated maintenance or infrastructure costs. There is also safeguarding benefits too, as it is easier to black list unwanted calls from fraudsters and telemarketers, and white listing family members and key contacts.

Are there any disadvantages to VoIP?

All systems have new ways of working have disadvantages as well as benefits, and VoIP is not excluded from this group. Although there are cost savings and operational improvements to VoIP, it is reliant on stable internet connection. If an organisation does not have suitable internet connection in place, call quality may become jittery. Furthermore, if there are power cuts, an organisation would lose access to their devices too. It is therefore important that contingency plans are in place and back-up connectivity infrastructure is in place too (such as cellular devices).

How do I upgrade?

The best first step is to speak to your broadband supplier. Be proactive! Your supplier should be reaching out to you. but that does not mean they will. Take the initiative and  speak to your internet supplier to learn what services will be impacted. If services are impacted, upgrade as soon as possible. Installation and upgrading new broadband can take up to six months (potentially longer), and there can always be ‘mishaps’ along the way – so it is important to upgrade in plenty of time with a contingency/back-up plan in place.

Do I need to switch to fibre broadband?

Yes. As your service will be becoming more reliant on internet and WIFI connectivity, you will most likely need to review your current infrastructure and increase its capacity. Upgrading your broadband connect to a fibre line will improve speed, scalability and a more reliable internet connection. Copper broadband lines are being phased out as part of the switch-off and you will no longer have access to the internet via copper lines. Orbital Net recommend four routes an organisation can take (please see jargon buster for more information: Leased Line; FTTP; SoGEA; and Wireless Fibre.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of fibre?

Advantages range from: greater bandwidth (faster connection speeds); faster download speeds; increased signal strength over longer distances; ability to connect more devices; more reliable and scalable.

Disadvantages: it is more expensive (but leads to a better internet service); depending on current infrastructure and devices, you may need to upgrade older devices used; there are potential installation costs; contingency plans will need to be in place in an power cut.

What could happen if I do not switch?

There could be significant impact for both your organisation and the delivery of care provided to residents and service users. Impact could include, potential loss of phone communications, CCTV no longer working, loss of access to WIFI if current internet connection is not strong enough, loss of access to alarms and telecare devices.

Jargon Buster

Please use the below jargon buster to help navigate the various phrases and abbreviations about the digital switchover:

Switchover: refers to the process of switching over analogue systems to digital, also called the switch-off.

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network that uses digital transmission to make phone calls/transmit data – was first introduced in 1988.

PSTN: Public Switched Telephone Network is the traditional cooper lines used in the ISDN, and is part of the switch-off.

Switchover: refers to the process of switching over analogue systems to digital, also called the switch-off.

VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol is part of a digital telephony system that allows a user to make calls using an internet connection.

SIP: Session Initiation Protocol uses an internet protocol that allows phones to connect to a wireless connection.

Fibre Connections: There are several different options organisations can consider when upgrading their broadband:

  • Leased Line: is a dedicated, fixed-bandwidth connection that is only connected to your organisation. It is solely for your organisation to access the internet through – does not drop at peak times.
  • FTTP: Fibre to the Premises supplies connectivity through fibre optic cables from the local internet exchange directly to your organisation .
  • SoGEA: Single order Generic Ethernet Access provides broadband connection without the need for a PSTN line.
  • Wireless Fibre: wireless technology transmit data instead of a physical cable (e.g., fibre optic). Useful for areas (particularly rural) where fibre optic is no yet available.

Orbital Net Webinar & Presentation

On 25 March 2024, Care England used it’s monthly meeting with DSIG to discuss the Digital Switchover with Orbital Net. The session provided an overview of the Switchover and a Q&A where Care England members provided insight into their experience of switching over from analogue to digital. Watch the full meeting below.

*Please note that these slides and webinar took place prior to the BT Group announcement of the switch-off extension on 16.05.2024.*

Access the presentation deck here.

For further support from Orbital Net, please see their ‘Connectivity within the Care Sector’ here. Orbital Net are offering FREE guidance and advice regarding the upcoming 2025 ISDN switch off. Contact them  today to discuss how it may impact your home.

Wider guidance and resources:

Orbital Net Care Sector Flyer

DHSC: Telecare stakeholder action plan: analogue to digital switchover

DSIT: UK transition from analogue to digital landlines

LGA: Digital Switchover Hub

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