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The switchover from analogue to digital telephony: Our research on the needs of landline telephony users

18 October 2022

Communications consumers deserve high quality, affordable, reliable and secure services – this is now as important as the right to access utilities. The current UK traditional telephone network – the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is reaching the end of its life and needs to be upgraded. Broadly, by the end of 2025, consumers currently using a traditional landline will be migrated over to using landline telephones over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

To build our knowledge base in this vital area and look more deeply into the issues we found in our qualitative research on people's awareness and perceptions of the switchover to VoIP, we commissioned this extensive survey of 4612 UK consumers on their landline telephony needs.

Key findings:

  • Nearly two thirds (62%) of our sample still used a landline to make calls, that figure rising to 75% of over-65s and 69% of people surveyed who self-identified as disabled. In those surveyed by telephone, 91% of over 65s and people who self-identified as disabled reported still using their landline to make calls.
  • In terms of mobile network connectivity, 2% of people who had a mobile were using a 2G connection, 10% a 3G connection and 13% didn’t know. People aged 65+ were more likely than the general population to have a 2G (3%) or 3G (14%) connection. For us, this shows that having a mobile is not a secure enough back-up in an emergency, particularly given the move away from 2G and 3G services by industry, in favour of 4G and 5G services.
  • From our UK-representative sample, 3% of the overall sample said had a said they had a Telecare alarm (such as a pendant or bracelet) – 7% of the sample that were interviewed by telephone; 1% of the overall population and 2% of those interviewed by phone said they had remote health monitoring, described as ‘Medical Services that require an internet connection so that your doctor or hospital can monitor
    your health while you're at home’.
  • Regarding power cuts, 64% of our sample had experienced a power cut in the last two years (84% of respondents in rural areas), with 32% of those saying the power cut had lasted between one and 24 hours.
  • 48% of respondents were aware of migration to VoIP by 2025 – awareness was higher among people aged 65+ (53%), men (54%), AB households (55%) and people from a minority ethnic background (54%).
  • 52% of people said they hadn’t heard about the VoIP migration. 18–34-year-olds (57%), 35-54s (55%), women (57%), people from C2DE households (57%), or a disability (58%) or low digital literacy (56%) were less likely than average to have heard.
  • In terms of how people would like to be informed about migration, the channels were ranked as email (69%), letter (54%), TV advert (29%), leaflet (22%), radio (10%), text (10%), phone call (8%) and online video (7%). While using this as a guide, we would expect communications providers to take account of their customers’ individual communications preferences and requirements, so that each of their customers has time to make preparations where needed.
  • Overall, respondents across our sample wanted answers to these questions: whether their bill would change (59%), whether their number would change (48%), how reliable VOIP might be (38%), whether they needed to buy another phone (38%), whether they could use their phone in a power cut (35%), who would help them set up the phone system in their home (22%) and what features VOIP has e.g. voicemail, call waiting, last number dialled (20%).

To access our research report including our recommendations for communications providers, UK and devolved governments and Ofcom, please click here.


If you have any difficulties accessing content on this page, please email us at contact@communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk