Revisiting internet telephony

In the middle of August 2021 a number of stories concerning the abolition of the telephone landline hit the headlines. The story wasn’t a new one. The plan to upgrade phone lines; doing away with the old copper analogue lines in favour of broadband telephony had been launched a number of years before.

In fact, by the time that in February 2019 Ofcom put out a policy statement examining “The future of fixed telephone services,” the statement included the acknowledgement that some phone companies had already begun to actively migrate their customers on to broadband telephony. Even that’s hardly surprising given that internet telephony first came into being in 1995 as has been part of business life for well over a decade. So much so, that if you dig back into our ‘news’ archives you’ll see that we were highlighting the benefits of an internet telephony service back in 2010.

So there’s nothing new about making calls over the internet; or VoIP (Voice over internet Protocol) as it is also known. What gave rise to the headlines, however, was the confirmation by Openreach that the old analogue phone network would be retired at the end of 2025.

The impending switch over naturally gave rise to a number of concerns; not the least of which was the challenge faced by those who either don’t currently have or want broadband or who are currently unable to receive a reliable or fast broadband signal. Ofcom say that telephone providers will be expected to deliver a solution in those instances; perhaps by offering a simple ‘phone only’ broadband connection of some sort.

There was also a concern raised in respect of other devices which rely on a phone line to work, such as fire or burglar alarm systems or telecare devices.  According to Ofcom, such devices may need to be upgraded or replaced and they recommend that people start to liaise with their provider in order to ensure that there is a solution in place in time for the switch over.

One area of particular concern here is that VoIP lines will require power to work. As a result, in the case of a power cut potentially life-saving technologies such as telecare devices would lose connectivity.  In these instances Ofcom say that “your provider must make sure you are able to contact the emergency services during a power cut. This could be in the form of battery back-up so your landline will continue to work, or giving you a basic mobile phone to use in this situation.”

On the plus side most businesses and individuals should be able to retain their existing phone number. There may also not be any need to buy new equipment, depending on the age of current systems. As the change is being phased in over a number of years Ofcom say that in the majority of cases individuals and businesses need take no action until their provider contacts them. However, that doesn’t stop businesses, for example, from looking to switch their current telephony system to VoIP in the interim; perhaps by taking advantage of the VoIP system offered by Callagenix.

Written by Alison