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A farewell to copper

The hidden connector on the router
Some revolutions happen so quietly that many people don't notice - and one such revolution is happening to the telephone system right now. 

Our traditional phone system is, frankly, an anachronism. We have a connection to the house designed to bring us voice calls. The internet - frankly our main use of these copper wires now - is clumsily piggybacked onto this antiquated system via the dreaded ADSL filter. But, without any fuss - without, I suspect, most people yet knowing about it - this approach is being phased out.

As of today, the phone sockets in our house no longer work. Instead, the phone is plugged into the back of the broadband router, into a connector hidden behind a sticker. Our 'phone number' is now a dummy thing, with calls arriving across the fibre optic link as Voice over IP and being translated to a fake old phone signal at the box.

Gone but not missed
It was only a matter of time. The old system was well past its sell-by date. Yet the transfer is not without its issues - both for us and for the phone company.

One thing, of course, is that any hardwired phone handsets around the house will no longer work. We can plug the base of a set of wireless phones (or a single wired phone) into the router, but that's it. As it happens we aren't using any wired handsets, but we did have one on standby in case of a power cut. Traditional phones run on their own power system, so still functioned if the mains power went down. With the new 'Digital Voice service' system, this won't be the case. We are told to use our mobiles instead. 

And there's the rub for the phone companies. Like many others, we already use our mobiles for all outgoing calls, only keeping the landline for three households who still use it to call us - plus all those irritating phishing calls. Now's the point when we (and presumably everyone else as they are eventually migrated - BT's timeline is to get everyone over to Digital Voice by 2025) have a big prompt to think 'What's the point of a landline?' and join the increasing number who get rid, or never have one in the first place.

Arguably this isn't really a digital voice service - it's a signal that phone companies are finally taking the step to become solely internet companies and saying goodbye to dedicated voice connections. Like all revolutions there are likely to be some bumps along the way - but I can't say I regret it. It was about time.


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