Concerns have been raised over plans to switch off all of the UK’s analogue phone lines by 2025.

Openreach, which is owned by BT, plans to disable the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISTN) in 2025, and move phone services to an internet-based system. However, Andover woman Iris Andersen has questioned the move, especially for the elderly.

“Phones are a lifeline for some people, some older people are technical but others have no idea,” she told the Advertiser. “After what we’ve gone through in the past 18 months, the importance of connection has been made very important, and we need to keep that going.”

BT did not respond to the Advertiser’s request for comment, but has previously said: “The PSTN network is increasingly out of kilter with the demands of modern communications. As people switch to mobile and internet communications, everyone demands much more than the traditional technologies were designed to deliver which is why we’re switching to IP.”

Following the invention of the telephone in the 19th century, telephone lines were wired into exchanges, with operators manually connecting calls to their desired destination. Over time, the operators were replaced by new technology, which routed calls automatically.

Signals are still routed through copper wiring to this day, but are expensive to maintain. As a result, Openreach, which maintains the UK’s telephone network, is seeking to move to a cloud-based system, where calls will be routed through the internet instead.

While a number of systems will work on the new system, adaptation of older technology, including alarms, fax machines, and some CCTV and security systems, will be required to make them function on an IP system.

“What is going to happen to people with lifeline systems and fax machines?” Iris asked. “This is going to be a challenge for people, and I’m worried about the services. Who will shoulder the costs?”

While adaptors are available relatively inexpensively, businesses could face significant costs if upgrading a number of older pieces of equipment. BT, however, argues that an IP-based service is “extremely cost-effective”.

Iris has also raised concerns that the internet-based nature of the system may cause issues in rural areas, where phone signal or internet connectivity may be poorer.

BT, however, says that the “vast majority” of customers will not notice issues with the call system, adding: “Calls don’t eat as much bandwidth as you might expect”.