The “Copper Switch-Off”

I expect that you, my readers – at least, most of you, anyway – will know what is meant by the “copper switch-off”. If not, then, briefly, it refers to the fact that by the end of 2025, the UK’s national telecoms provider, British Telecom, will switch off the remaining copper telephone lines. If, by then you have not moved to optical fibre for your telephone and Internet connection, you will find yourself cut off.

Exactly what is being switched off, and what will remain. is nicely explained by this useful article by Recovar.

For some years now, we have received our Internet connection from Zen. No Internet Service Provider (ISP) is perfect and we have had the occasional problems with our Zen account but, in general, they are pretty good. (When you telephone them, the recorded voice cheerfully reminds you that they are the only ISP recommmended by Which.)

Until a few days ago, we had a DSL Internet connection reaching us via BT’s copper wire telephone system. This cost us a Zen subscription of £20.40 a month but, in addition, we had to pay BT for a landline telephone connection.

As far as speed goes, Which’s broadband speed tester gave typical values of 15.1 Mbps for download and 0.8 Mbps for upload. This is quite slow by modern fibre standards but it was good enough for our modest needs and we would probably have kept it indefinitely.

Into this calm domestic scene, news of the copper switch-off erupted like the villain in the pantomime. I suddenly realised that if we sat back and did nothing, then by the end of 2025 at the latest, and probably sooner than that, our Internet connection would be cut off, never to return.

I picked up the phone (my mobile, that is, as we never use the landline to make calls and never answer it if it rings) and called Zen to ask whether they could offer a solution. They certainly could and, moreover, one that would not cost a fortune.

If you study the Recovar page mentioned above and, in particular, Figure 1 half-way down, you will observe an important fact: while the copper circuits from the telephone exchange to the “cabinet” (the green metal box in the street) are being disconnected, the copper line from the cabinet to the house will remain, at least for the time being. This meant that Zen could offer us a “fibre to cabinet” connection which will not be affected by the switch-off.

The connection from the cabinet to the house continues to run over the copper wire already in place. This means that no change is necessary at our end: we do not need a new router or even need to switch it off and on again to get it working.

Our new connection went live on March 17th. The first I knew about it was when I received an email from Zen informing me of the fact. I quickly went to the computer and started loading Web pages. Yep, we were up and running and it has run ever since without a hitch.

The copper wire connection from the cabinet means that we don’t get full fibre speed as we would with a “fibre to house” account. According to Which’s broadband speed checker, we are gettiing 30.8 Mbps download and 9.3 Mbps upload. While this is not blazingly fast, it is faster than our old connection which was already good enough for our needs.

What does our new connections cost us? It cost £30 per month. This is more expensive than our old account but, wait, there’s another advantage: we no longer need the BT phone line! We could have elected to include a Zen phone service with our contract for a few pounds more but, as I indicated above, we never used the darn thing, anyway. Paying for just the Internet connection, we are paying less than we paid before for Internet plus landline. That’s a win in anybody’s terms.

As indicated above, the changeover was seemless: I didn’t even notice it happen and the connection has gone on working as it always has but just a little bit faster.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to The “Copper Switch-Off”

  1. BFG says:

    I may be out of order here, but I think a certain person’s birthday is celebrated today (Saturday), in which case, Happy Birthday! (and many more of them). Do birthdays qualify for special dispensation so that the ring gets a day off from being closed, I wonder?
    Probably not – chores need to be done, walking needs to be done (I know it did on mine, so I closed the step ring, and almost-but-not-quite closed the ring on heart points as I hit the 70 mile marker).
    Hope the copper dropper continues to work well for you. We’re still stuck with DSL over 40+ year old copper for both phone and cable, and no fibre in sight (we started asking in 2016 whether there were plans to even put fibre into the local area, let alone our building) and so far no joy from either AT&T or Comcast, the only providers in the area).
    Felicitations to T once again,


    • SilverTiger says:

      You are right, of course, that it is Tigger’s birthday today. Thanks for your good wishes which I have passed on.

      As for the ring, yes, no day off allowed and it had been duly attended to and closed.

      Liked by 1 person

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