Oxygen Finance

Countdown to Digital: How Councils are Navigating the Digital Telephony Switchover

With the impending deadline looming for all landline telephony services to switch from an analogue service to a digital network in 2025, it appears that some public sector bodies are still rushing to catch up and make these changes.


This switchover, expected to be fully completed by December 2025, will replace the country’s existing Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) – deemed “harder and more expensive to maintain” (The withdrawal of landlines and switch to digital calls – House of Commons Library) – with an internet-based connection, using technology such as Voice over Internet Protocol, Digital Voice or All-IP telephony. And although the Digital Switchover is, according to the same House of Commons paper, “an industry-led process” and “not the direct result of a specific Government decision or policy”, local authorities in England still recognise the major implications this technology shift could have on their day-to-day operations.


Opportunities identified on Oxygen Finance’s Pre-Procurement portal indicates that the biggest impact of this switchover will be felt by councils’ Adult Social Care teams. These departments currently use a range of technologies/devices to communicate with colleagues, managers and more importantly, vulnerable people in the community, through equipment such as telecare systems, personal and emergency alarms and assistive technology. Further issues arise with IT services, and the impact the switchover could have on councils’ communications, both to external customers and internally across departments. Other problems could involve local authorities’ transport and security functions.


Specific updates featured on the Pre-Procurement site indicate that one of the biggest local authorities in England, Birmingham City Council, is planning a spend of more than £2m on an analogue phone line replacement project, as part of the council’s plans to be ‘digital switchover’ ready, while Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is to purchase/install new digital units for its Rothercare alarm service, in light of the closure of the PSTN, at a total cost of £1.7m. A third large metropolitan council, Dudley MBC, also indicated that it was starting market engagement exercises last year to secure replacement telecommunication services/equipment, again with the 2025 Digital Switchover in mind. A further example highlights how Worcestershire County Council is introducing a two-phase programme to switch its PSTN solution to a digital service. According to the update, the authority’s communication solution “still uses a variety of PSTN services” and proposals are afoot to replace these via an ongoing three-phase programme.


And this is where Oxygen Insights’ spend tool comes into its own, as this can help to highlight the top suppliers across the main categories (Community Care Equipment; Telehealth; and Network & Comms Services) associated with the Digital Switchover. A quick glance at the top ten of this list shows how these organisations are all big players in the field with all potentially able to assist local authority’s with their digital switchover demands.



In addition to a comprehensive list of potential suppliers, the Spend portal also shows which public sector organisations are spending the most, over a certain time period (the financial year 2022/23), on these switchover requirements. According to further Oxygen Finance data, the top three local authority buyers for 2022/23 were Norfolk County Council, Birmingham City and Kent, with further large councils, including Essex and West Sussex, following closely behind.



As a final thought, further exploration of the Insights Portal reveals that in the financial year 2022/23, specific public sector bodies in England (City Regions; London Boroughs; Metropolitans, Unitaries and Shire Counties) spent just over £785m on three categories alone – Community Care Equipment, Network & Comms; and Telehealth. With the Digital Switchover on the horizon and the ongoing financial crisis facing many local authorities in the UK, let’s hope that the switch to digital and internet phone lines can help these councils to provide a more efficient service and cost-effective service.

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