Richard Parkinson is Director of FarrPoint

A QUIET revolution is on the horizon for the phone cables that come into our homes and businesses.

If this is the first you’ve heard of it, and you have no idea about the implications, you are far from alone.

Research by telecare provider Taking Care found 91 per cent of us were unaware the UK’s analogue phone lines – used by most households and businesses – will be switched off by the end of 2025, as they are replaced by fully digital networks.

The switch-off is already happening, but it’s difficult to predict when any individual line will go digital. There are more than 600 UK telecom providers, each with their own process, plans and timescales.

The blissful ignorance most of us are living in may be because we believe the switch-off won’t affect us. And it’s true for householders, the change will usually only involve plugging their phone into their internet router instead of a wall socket.

It’s businesses who will feel the disruption more acutely. The analogue switch-off won’t just affect phones, but also fire and security alarms, traffic lights, boiler controls and car park barriers, to name but a few. Who knew so many systems relied on telephone lines?

Some of this equipment uses signalling that can’t be carried reliably over a digital line, so may need upgraded or replaced before it can be connected to the new lines.

Digital lines don’t work if the power fails. This can cause issues for applications needing guaranteed connectivity, like lift lines and fire panels.

Businesses should assess where their existing phone lines are, how they are used, and plan for their replacement. Digital services do offer potential cost savings, so it’s not all bad news.

The changes don’t end there. Plans to decommission 3G mobile networks begin next year with Vodafone and EE, and Three in 2024. Anyone with older devices that only support 3G will need to replace them.

Again, businesses should take heed as equipment they may use can also connect to mobile networks – like security alarms and remote monitoring.

The third forthcoming change – the "copper switch-off" – is sometimes wrongly confused with the analogue one.

While the analogue switch-off will see everyone move to digital phone lines, many of these lines will still be delivered over existing copper connections. The copper switch-off will see these replaced with fibre optic technology, providing higher levels of capacity and reliability.

This will impact around 25 million UK premises, from GP surgeries to pharmacies and shops; all must switch to fibre or mobile by 2027. It sounds far away, but changes are already happening. At FarrPoint we have created a map showing how and when this will affect different parts of the country, with some areas likely to be impacted sooner than others.

Organisations with multiple locations should find out what sites rely on copper-based services, and what fibre-based alternatives they should be using.

If you don’t know the answers, seek advice. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with this, but these changes are coming and organisations must be on the front foot, not just to avoid issues but to reap the benefits too.