Most of Wales is still reliant on a Victorian-age copper infrastructure – technology that is decades old and was designed to carry voice signals rather than broadband. In 2025 Openreach plan to switch off analogue phone service as a pre-cursor to retiring the UK copper network and replacing it with full fibre which they, and alternatives providers like Ogi, are doing in phases between now and (it is estimated) 2030.
Many of us are using this analogue service to access our landline phones or broadband at home – it’s the technology most of us have grown up with, carrying our voice from one place to another.
These lines also support some of the lesser-known products in our homes and businesses, like burglar alarms, personal alarms and mains-powered fire alarms – making them, quite literally, a lifeline to many.
With the plan to switch off the network in the coming years, service providers are already looking at ways to safely move customers over to new technology like full fibre (sometimes called fibre to the premises). But this comes with its own challenges, particularly in rural areas or places ‘missed’ by fibre rollouts of the latest mobile technology.
According to the most recent Connected Nations 2022 report, published by Ofcom, around 90% of Wales has good mobile coverage from all four major operators, while around 15,000 homes and businesses are still unable to access a ‘decent’ broadband service of at least 10Mbit/s download speed.
Clearly then, there is a lot to do before we can completely abandon current technology, even if it’s clinging on longer than originally intended.
The good news is operators are already laying the foundations for new future-ready ultrafast fibre optic connections that can deliver faster speeds and are cleaner, more environmentally friendly for the planet. The new network will consume 80% less power and carbon. And the millions of miles of old copper cable can be recovered and upcycled.
Ogi and Age Cymru have come together to help inform older people about the forthcoming phone systems digital switchover. Here you’ll find our top tips for handling the switchover now, or when the time comes.
Digital Switchover is the term being used by service providers to explain the move from copper wire telephone lines – the technology most of us have grown up with – to digital services like full fibre broadband. Together with Age Cymru, we’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions to help you understand what’s happening and how you can prepare.