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Changes to landlines and 3G networks

Sep 18, 2023Sep 18, 2023

07 June 2023

The way your home phone and mobile phone connections work are going to change by the end of 2025. Find out what the changes are and whether they will affect you.

Currently, most home phone landline connections work through an analogue, copper wire connection to the home.

By the end of 2025, this type of landline connection will be switched off across the UK, by which time all home phone connections will work over the internet.

For most people, this will simply mean that the phone will plug into their internet router rather than at the telephone port in the wall.

Where adapters or other steps are required, your service provider will offer advice or engineers to help you make the switch.

VOIP connections

This stands for 'Voice Over Internet Protocol'. This type of phone connection uses an internet connection rather than the copper wire to make calls.

BT's name for its VOIP system is 'Digital Voice'.

The changeover will happen first for homes with a full fibre connection, before being rolled out to the rest of the country.

Your phone provider will contact you with information before any changes take place, and vulnerable phone users will be offered additional support.

If you’re still unsure about the switch-off, contact your phone provider to ask further questions and get more support.

Relying on a broadband connection for calling creates a vulnerability to power outages.

In most cases, mobile signal provides a backup in case of emergency, however, in areas of poor mobile signal, a battery back-up is expected be offered to customers so that during a power outage, emergency calls can still be made on the household phone.

The NFU is also working with BT and other providers to ensure that rural communities are not left without sufficient support and access to working home phones in any emergency situations and continue to press the importance of rural mobile access to industry and government.

Three of the main four mobile providers in the UK, Vodafone, Three, and EE, have announced they will be removing their 3G infrastructure by the end of 2024.

At present, O2 have not announced whether they will be closing down their 3G services.

Virtual networks, such as giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile, and Virgin Mobile, make use of one of the big four networks. Their 3G services will end in line with their parent network.

If you use one of these providers, please check with them individually to see whether they will be ending their 3G service.

Mobile providers are switching off their 3G networks to make room for the more 4G and 5G connections. These connections give customers much faster and reliable connectivity to their mobile services.

3G accounts for a small proportion of calls and a negligible proportion of mobile data usage in the UK. 3G has a geographical coverage much smaller than the 4G network, meaning it will only be in very rare cases that a 3G area is not also covered by 4G.

The 2G network provides a safety net for current users of 3G for calls. Very few people rely on 3G for data due to the extreme slow speeds which have led to increased 4G and 5G use in the past decade.

When the 3G network is turned off, anyone using a device which cannot access the 4G network will continue to be able to make calls through the 2G network, which has the best geographic coverage of all.

For most people the change will not be noticed, but people on historic 3G plans may be offered an upgrade by providers to give them access to the faster 4G or even 5G networks.

The Shared Rural Network, a programme to ensure coverage of rural areas with 4G by 2025, is not affected by the 3G turn-off.

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

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