BT Openreach to switch off old landlines in more than 80 locations including North East - full list

Parts of Northumberland, County Durham and Sunderland will be affected by the changes
Parts of Northumberland, County Durham and Sunderland will be affected by the changes -Credit:PA

Openreach has confirmed which areas will next see their broadband upgraded from ageing copper technology, with more than 80 locations set to make the switch including some in the North East.

The BT-owned company will be rolling out the update in the affected areas over the next 12 months, which will halt the sale of legacy analogue products in more than 880,000 premises across the UK as customers are switched over to much newer technology. The update will see many more homes get better internet speeds, with Openreach cables already used by a number of major broadband providers such as Sky, Vodafone, Plusnet and TalkTalk.

More and more parts of the country are seeing older wires being made redundant as the UK moves towards a digital future, with faster Fibre to the Premises (FFTP) connections being installed instead. Along with improving broadband speeds, the change also affects landlines with homes being switched over to a technology called VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), The Express reports.

This digital calling, which connects homes via the internet, offers modern features not found on old landline services, such as Multi Call, three-way calling for conference calls, and call diversion to any other phone number including mobile phones. The call quality should also be much improved with Digital Voice, although customers will need a compatible Digital Home phone to take advantage.

BT first confirmed that it was moving forward with its Digital Voice Changeover plan last year, saying that families with traditional analogue landline phones will have four weeks notice to make the switch in summer 2024. However, the company said it will delay the switch for certain vulnerable people.

Openreach explained that the 'Stop Sell' phase, in other words the discontinuation of sales and installations of phone systems and products that rely on the old copper lines, is triggered when a majority (75%) of premises connected to a particular exchange can get ultrafast Full Fibre. Customers who then want to switch, upgrade or re-grade their broadband or phone service will have to take a new digital service over the Full Fibre network.

It's worth noting that customers in these exchanges not yet able to get Ultrafast Full Fibre at their premises won't be impacted, and can stay on their existing copper-based service until Full Fibre becomes available. The full list of areas affected is as follows, with North East locations highlighted:

  • Ashington, Northumberland

  • Ellington, Northumberland

  • Bishop Auckland, County Durham

  • Sherburn, County Durham

  • Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland

  • Portlethen

  • Aberdeen

  • Addingham

  • Alderminster

  • Appleton Roebuck

  • Greater Manchester

  • Wigan

  • Sheffield

  • Greater London

  • Barking and Dagenham

  • Doncaster

  • Bridgend

  • Burnham-on-Sea

  • Glasgow

  • Buxton (High Peak)

  • Carlisle

  • Gillingham (Kent)

  • Chesterfield

  • Trefor

  • Coalville

  • Heage

  • Rippingale

  • Saintfield

  • Rugby

  • Manchester

  • Leicester

  • Exeter

  • Flamborough

  • Ipswich

  • Grimsby

  • Rayleigh

  • Cannock

  • Huddersfield

  • Ilkeston

  • Ilkley

  • Kidsgrove

  • Luton

  • Leven

  • Haywards Heath

  • Llanbrynmair

  • Cardiff

  • Wakefield

  • Mareham le Fen

  • Chatham

  • Moore

  • Tameside

  • Motherwell

  • Southwark

  • New Mills

  • South Cave

  • North Kelser

  • Oldham

  • Penistone

  • Pontardawe

  • Raunds

  • Rearsby

  • Craigavon

  • Ross-on-Wye

  • Rotherfield

  • Chelmsford

  • Scotter

  • Scunthorpe

  • Skegness

  • Solihull

  • Blackpool

  • Southend-on-Sea

  • Stotfold

  • Stratford-upon-Avon

  • Antrim

  • Leicester

  • Torquay

  • Tregynon

  • Bradford

  • Havering

  • Waltham on the Wolds

  • Rotherham

  • Brighton and Hove

Openreach managed customer migrations manager James Lilley said of the changes: "We're moving to a digital world and Openreach is helping with that transformation by rolling out ultrafast, ultra-reliable, and future-proofed digital Full Fibre across the UK. This game-changing technology will become the backbone of our economy for decades to come, supporting every aspect of our public services, businesses, industries and daily lives.

"Already, our Full Fibre network is available to close to 14 million homes and businesses, with more than 4 million premises currently taking a service. Taking advantage of the progress of our Full Fibre build and encouraging people to upgrade where a majority can access our new network is the right thing to do as it makes no sense, both operationally and commercially, to keep the old copper network and our new fibre network running side-by-side."

He added: "As copper's ability to support modern communications declines, the immediate focus is getting people onto newer, future proofed technologies." However, there has been some concern that switching off the old copper wires could leave older and vulnerable people without their usual means of communication.

VOIP can stop working if the power goes off, potentially leaving those without mobile phones or a strong signal unable to call for help. The Government recently stepped in to make sure suppliers will keep all users connected, with ministers saying the new agreement with telecoms firms will better protect those using personal alarms, known as telecare, which offer remote support to elderly, disabled and vulnerable people – with many located in rural and isolated areas.

"The safety of vulnerable customers comes before anything else, and that's why I called on the industry to listen to concerns and take action to make sure the right protections are in place," technology secretary Michelle Donelan said.