BT begins to upgrade London landlines in latest phase of its mandatory move to broadband-powered phones

a man makes a call on a BT digital voice handset in a busy kitchen

BT has already turned off copper landlines for 2 million customers nationwide

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 16/11/2023

- 12:14

Updated: 16/11/2023

- 16:34

BT is switching off old landlines across the capital ahead of 2025 deadline

  • BT has started to turn off copper landlines in Greater London
  • Everyone nationwide will be moved to 'Digital Voice' handsets by next summer
  • Vulnerable users should contact BT for additional help with switchover

BT has confirmed plans to switch off traditional landlines and replace them with internet-based Digital Voice services across Greater London over the coming weeks. The move follows similar roll-outs across Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland, the North West and East Midlands over recent months.

Traditional copper-cable landlines have been the primary way to make and receive calls in UK homes for decades, but by 2025, this tried-and-tested technology will be confined to the history books. BT and other home phone providers are transitioning millions of Britons' landlines to new digital technology.

Dubbed Digital Voice, the system relies on your broadband connection, sometimes referred to as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It works in the same way as WhatsApp or FaceTime audio calls, which also rely on the internet over traditional phone lines to connect people.

As part of the switch process, your landline phone will need to be plugged directly into your router. Confused? Our comprehensive guide to the BT landline cut off and move to Digital Voice has all of the answers you're looking for.

a BT employee demonstrates the technology to a passerby

BT will hold Town Hall meetings and Pop-Up Meetings, like the mobile office pictured above, to help demonstrate Digital Voice to customers confused about the switchover


According to BT, the switch to Digital Voice brings a number of improvements, including improved call quality and better protection against spam calls. However, since it's reliant on a broadband connection, homes can lose their ability to make and receive landline calls when there is an internet outage.

This is not a problem with copper landlines since they work independently of the internet infrastructure.

In fact, traditional UK landlines can continue to work even if there is a power outage because the telephone line draws power from the local telephone exchange, which has a built-in backup.

BT is offering to send a battery pack to some of its most vulnerable customers, which will enable them to continue to make and receive calls during a power cut.

To ensure that BT sends the right equipment, anyone who meets the following conditions should reach out to ensure they get the right support from the company...

  • Customers who wear a healthcare pendant
  • Customers with no broadband connection
  • Customers who live in an area with no mobile signal
  • Customers who have previously disclosed additional needs to BT

Speaking about the switch, Senior Engagement Manager at BT Vicky Hicks said: "BT customers in Greater London will benefit from a tried and tested service, with around two million BT customers already having made the switch and benefitting from the many advantages of digital home phones from advanced scam call filtering capabilities to crystal-clear call audio.

“For almost everyone, moving to Digital Voice will be a simple and free transition with no home installation work required. If you feel you need additional support with the transition or you think you are vulnerable, please do tell us. We will be with you every step of the way.”

When your address is selected for the upgrade from a traditional landline, you'll be contacted by BT with further instructions.

The company aims to get in touch four weeks before the installation date, when you'll be required to plug your existing landline phone into the broadband router.

BT customers over the age of 70 are not proactively switched to Digital Voice, the company has reassured. But since July 2023, BT has started to trial switching customers aged between 70-74 who live in urban areas and have the latest broadband hub and don't regularly make landline calls. According to BT, these trials have gone well to date, with 98% of customers choosing to make the switch.

If you've recently taken out a full-fibre broadband plan, you'll likely already have been switched over to the Digital Voice (or an equivalent) service. For landline customers who don't have internet access at home, BT is offering an interim fix where it can install equipment at the nearest telephone exchange to keep the ageing handset connected until 2030.

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