The Big Switch Off is coming and residents in Braintree District are being urged to help spread the word to word to those who rely on their landline service.
The analogue switch off is happening by December 2025 and those with landline phones will need to switch to an internet-based service. For those with an existing broadband connection and a modern phone this will simply mean unplugging their handset and plugging it into their router.
However, we are aware that a minority of households – and even some businesses – do not have an internet connection and will need to find an alternative option for their phone systems before the switch off, which will also affect fax machines, some older-style burglar alarms and some types of telecare services used by vulnerable residents.
Phone users do not need to act immediately and should wait until their phone company contacts them to explain the process. Some fraudsters may take advantage of this situation but residents should not feel rushed into making a decision, they should review the options and discuss this with relatives or carers before committing.
The options for those without internet are:
Opt for a full broadband package to allow them access to digital phone services as well as opening up internet TV options and the ability to browse the web from a tablet, smart phone or computer
Sign up for one of the new ‘voice only’ internet contracts which will be introduced in the lead up to the switch off for those only wanting to use internet phone systems
Concerns have been raised about the impact of power cuts, particularly in rural parts of our district where mobile phone signal may be poor or where someone is vulnerable and relies on their phone line. In these instances, the home phone provider should offer a solution such as a battery-operated handset or a battery-run signal booster for mobiles to ensure residents can make emergency calls even when power lines are down.
Cllr Tom Cunningham, Braintree District Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: “Whilst this is a step forward which will give us a more reliable and resilient phone service, we are very aware of the digital divide here in the district. For those without an internet connection this will seem a frightening prospect.
“We are urging our residents to share the message with relatives and neighbours who are perhaps older or vulnerable and encourage them to look out for communications from their phone providers. We need to make sure all households understand these changes are coming and there will be packages out there to meet their needs.”