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Fears alarms and lifts to stop working as copper network switch-off deadline looms

 (Daniel Hambury)
(Daniel Hambury)

Alarms, lifts and cash machines across the country could soon stop working as the UK marks its first milestone in abandoning its legacy copper communications network.

From today Brits will no longer be able to purchase new lines on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), a which is to be switched off permanently in 2025.

The technology, which is run off underground copper lines installed in the late 19th century, continues to be used by a number of devices and systems installed in the Nineties, including burglar alarms, door entry mechanisms, CCTV, lifts and fax machines.

Andrew Belshaw, CEO of telecoms company Gamma, which helps businesses switch to cloud-based telephony, said: “We think there are as many as seven million consumers and three million businesses who still use these lines.

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“People are going to have to do something but there’s not an awful lot of awareness.”

BT said it plans to recover as much as 200,000 tonnes of copper as it strips out the obsolete system from its network, worth as much as £1.4 billion at current market prices, as it contines with its rollout of fibre broadband, reaching 25 million homes and businesses by the end of 2026.

The move adds the UK to a growing list of European countries who are scrapping PSTN in favour of internet protocal (IP) networks. Germany  and Sweden are ahead of the UK in making the shift, while Estonia and The Netherlands have already switched off their PSTN networks.

London-listed Gamma today revised its earnings forecasts up to the top end of market expectations after it posted a boost in profits and unveiled it had acquired cyber security firm Satisnet in a £20 million deal.

Pre-tax profits rose 13% to £43.5 million for the first six months of the year, while revenues climbed 9% to £256.2 million.

Gamma shares went up 1.3% to 1082p.