By the end of 2025 the public switched telephone network (PSTN) will be switched off across the United Kingdom, ushering in a new era of telecoms. Digital services will take its place, namely internet protocol (IP) or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems through which users can make calls via broadband or mobile data.
This could affect the many elderly residents residing in Lytham St. Anne’s Concerns have been raised that the UK telephone upgrade in 2025 may put elderly and rural communities at particular risk of being negatively affected by the transition to voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The transition from copper wires to VoIP will undoubtedly impact millions of people across the UK, particularly those who heavily rely on their landline telephones for communication. Issues include reliability, the digital divide, and emergency preparedness. Among the most vulnerable groups affected are the elderly, who have spent a lifetime using traditional landlines and may struggle to adapt to the complexities of digital technology. For many seniors, the simplicity of picking up a phone and dialling a number provides a sense of familiarity and security. However, the shift to VoIP may require them to learn new devices, applications, and processes, leading to potential feelings of confusion and isolation.
Unlike traditional copper-wire landlines, which can continue to function during power outages, VoIP relies on electricity and internet connectivity. In emergency situations such as natural disasters or widespread power failures, individuals may find themselves without a reliable means of communication, hindering their ability to call for help or stay connected with loved ones.
Another issue is the digital divide, which is exacerbated by the shift to VoIP. While many individuals are already accustomed to digital technologies, others, particularly the elderly, may struggle to adapt to the complexities of VoIP systems. This lack of digital literacy can lead to frustration, alienation, and increased social isolation. Furthermore, for those living in areas with inadequate internet infrastructure, the installation of high-speed broadband may be costly and time-consuming, further delaying access to essential communication services.
Meanwhile, the elderly may still remember Telephone Exchanges. This board was in Blackpool. Can you spot the line to Lytham (pictured below)?
Lytham Telephone Exchange