Thursday 17 December 2020

Day 276 of self-isolation - Land lines will stop in 2025

Land lines will stop in 2025

BT just called me. They explained that land lines will be shut down in 2025. Goodbye POTS (Plain old telephone system), officially called PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). After then, phones will be VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)  which means that you'll need an internet connection. ISDN is also going. I used ISDN for a while, because it gives a reliable 64 kilobit link, which at the time was pretty good. That was 20 years ago.

So we have a few lines. One for the alarm system, and two for ordinary use. I used to have several more; DSL (broadband) lines that I used for backup.

I'm not surprised. It's far more efficient for voice calls to be packetised and share a link, than to have a pair of wires leading to each phone.

We have a small switchboard, from Panasonic. I strongly doubt if that will work with BT's cloudphones. 

So I checked the pricing. BT want £13/month plus VAT per user, plus £100 connection charge. And in addition, you have to have the internet connection.

Vodafone charge £6 plus vat for a sim-only mobile, unlimited minutes and texts, 2gb data. 3 offers deals from £5 per month.

So why shouldn't I go for the cheaper mobile deal? I don't really see any good reason. We could get two mobile phones, and just keep them, in a charger, in the place where we usually have our land phones.

And ... I already have just the right phones. Many many years ago, I used a Nokia  6310i. It does phone calls. It receives texts and if you stretch a point, it can send texts. It isn't a smartphone, but it's a phone. And the battery lasts a week if the phone is switched on; months if it isn't. We can use those. And if those aren't good enough, I have a bunch of smartphones that are obsolete, but still work fine.

Or - do we really need a line at all? We each have a mobile phone, and most of the calls to the landline are scams or spam.

I think that when BT stops POTS service, they will just lose my business.


  1. My adult daughters will never own a landline and will have their first cell # they ever had as their lifetime number. I'm not sure if they ever called someone from our home "land line" which hasn't been a POTS line in over a decade. The only reason we still have a home # is the plan with our service provider ends up costing next to nothing as it's part of the TV/Internet/Phone bundle. Dropping the phone portions drives the price of TV/Internet up via reduced 'discounts".

    1. It does make sense to go wireless as much as possible.

  2. Hey Alan, hope you and Mrs S are doing well.

    Last time we connected was on a BBS about data recovery in the early 1980's.

    I stopped using land lines in 2013, I had a single broadband line and installed a Draytek router with VoIP, I added two additional VoIP devices.

    I used these line for various VoIP free services I was testing at the time, each included voicemails sent to my email.

    I then moved up to Twilio, I was able to move my US numbers to that for $1 a month. I found a bit of code online that allows me to manage my twilio lines, records calls for training and quality control etc. It all redirects to those VoIP devices which cost me a about £15 each.

    Finally I was free, I could take the draytek and two other VoIP devices and go anywhere in the world that had an internet connection. In 2015 I lived in LA for 3 months and it all worked fine.

    The bigger question re your post is why do telecom companies get to charge so much?

    Broadband has been sold for as little as £5.38 for a year by Sky with no install charge on Money Saving Expert. TalkTalk has sold it for as low as £24 for the year and thrown extra kit in. EE used to effectively give it away free.

    I blame the merger of BT and EE, this stifled competition, broadband prices were hiked in what seemed like cartel behaviour. We were "told" it was to fund the investment into Fibre but ADSL was priced at £1 below Fibre when it should have been an entry level product.

    Then people like me started to question line rental, this too had been hiked every year to the ridiculous level it is at.

    We were told we were paying for the infrastructure, well that is a load of ball hooks, it has been around and upgraded paid for 100x over.

    If you have a new line installed and have a chat with the engineers when it all goes wrong you will discover the most mismanaged system ever.

    Each home is wired to a green box in their street, the green box is wired to the exchange. In the exchange there is a right mess of kit from different suppliers that BT Wholesale will plug you into and that in turn connects to bigger national devices.

    You would have thought that once connected they would leave each home connected and when there are changes in supplier just move a cable in the switch panel at the exchange.

    In fact you would have thought that they would do all this in software with virtual networks in the switch, something that has been around for at least 20 years.

    Hell no, not only do they unplug you from your green box but BT and some other providers charge you to be be unplugged when you terminate. They then charge you again if you take another service at a future date. Even if you just change supplier they have to send an engineer to your home and to the green box.

    Imagine if they did this in offices, anyone who has worked in one of those glass towers in Canary Wharf knows that staff are moved around all the time from floor to floor. Imagine if they had to rewire every Ethernet Port, it would be madness.

    No, every port goes to a numbered slot on patch panel and these days those connections are managed in software, so you move the finance team into a software VPN in the switch, you can even lock the connection to the mac address of the expected device.

    BT could have save billions in staff and maintenance costs if they had done this with all the "infrastructure" money they have had from us over the years and that would have been a true investment. They could install best of breed routers at the exchanges, setup VPN's for Sky et al and move customers in software in 30 seconds.

    This would mean that the subscriber gets their broadband at new address on day of moving at 14:00 by a script. Meanwhile, for the now empty home, it defaults into BT hotspot service with a special offer to sign up with BT Broadband.

    Instead the only people who have BT are those with more money than sense.

    Now you say they are dumping pots, well great if it means we can dump this line rental too. Yeh right, that will not happen!