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About the switch

Chances are, if you use a landline to ring your friends or family, your call still travels up and down an old copper phone line.

We may be living in a digital world where the internet can give you almost anything you want at the swipe of a screen, but our old copper phone networks are still very much part of our everyday lives. But not for much longer. Across the UK, there are plans to replace and upgrade old copper phone networks with new fibre networks. In the same way that the UK’s televisions changed from analogue to digital, now it’s the time for our phone landlines to join the 21st Century.

In most of the country, BT is replacing its old copper networks with modern fibre, but here in Hull and East Yorkshire KCOM is pioneering the way and replacing its old cables with a state of the art replacement first.

  • Why is this happening?

    Legacy copper landlines are old and no longer fit for purpose. Most of the copper landlines in Hull and East Yorkshire are more than 40 years old – and in some places could be up to 100 years old.

    They were never designed to cope with the demands our modern world puts on them – and they were certainly never meant to carry high tech broadband services such as iPlayer and Spotify.

    Fibre is more reliable, easier to fix and uses 35% less energy than copper – so it’s future proof and good for the planet.

  • When is it happening?

    In April 2023 we launched one of the biggest infrastructure projects in KCOM history – to replace and upgrade the copper landlines to 170,000 homes and businesses across the area.

    It’s a huge undertaking that will take more than two years and cost £17m as we work our way around the whole city and surrounding area. We’re already way ahead of the pack thanks to the rollout of our full fibre broadband network, which was completed across Hull and East Yorkshire in 2019.

    This means the vast majority of homes and businesses in our area already have a fibre connection and will be easy to transfer to a fibre phone connection.

  • What do I need to do?

    In most cases, switching your landline from the copper network to the fibre one is easy – and you’ll be able to do it yourself.

    We’ll send you an adaptor in the post that you will need to plug into the internet connection box on the wall. Technically this is called the Optical Network Terminal (or the ONT) and is the same box that your internet router plugs into. Then you plug your existing phone into the adapter. Job done. It’s as simple as that.

    However, in a small number of cases, where a KCOM customer only has an old copper phone or broadband connection, we’ll need to install a fibre connection inside each home.

    Emergency calls, lifelines, alarms and other equipment

    Once you have connected your phone to your Optical Network Terminal (ONT) your landline will be delivered over the internet. It’s important to note that if your broadband or power supply fails you won’t be able to make any landline calls including to the 999 emergency services. In the rare circumstances this happens please use alternative means to make these calls for example by using a mobile phone. Feel free to contact us if you feel you need support.

    Most types of alarms and some other equipment such as Lifeline pendants use your landline. We’ve been working with local councils and device manufacturers to test equipment but you should check with your manufacturer/provider to make sure it works with the new fibre network.

    If you use a Lifeline or have an elderly relative or friend who uses one, make sure they are aware of any potential changes or disruption to their service.  If you need more information, please email or call 01482 484272.

    We’ll contact our customers to find out what devices they have connected to their landline before we move them to fibre. Where a customer needs extra support, we’ll send an engineer. Our tests to date have shown that newer Lifelines will work with the fibre network but some older versions may not.

    In partnership with Age UK Hull & East Yorkshire

    The switchover may affect older and vulnerable people more than other groups, that’s why we are now working with community groups across the region such as Age UK Hull & East Yorkshire to identify those who may need a little extra help to make sure they’re connected to the new system.

    And don’t worry, KCOM will be in touch with everyone in the months ahead to let them know when their service is being changed and what, if anything, they need to do. If you, or an elderly relative are a vulnerable customer - especially if you don’t already have a home fibre connection, and think you need more support to upgrade your landline to fibre, contact

    Thanks to the kind support from these charities and community groups

    Did you know?

    • It’s becoming increasingly hard and expensive to find the replacement parts and the engineering knowhow needed when the copper network breaks.
    • Copper lines fail x4 more often than fibre and are less reliable in bad weather.
    • The way in which people in the UK make phone calls has changed in the last 10 years. Fewer people use traditional landlines that use old copper wiring. More people use mobiles and digital messaging services such as WhatsApp over Wi-Fi when they’re at home.
    • Copper is environmentally unfriendly and uses more power to run then full fibre. By switching to fibre KCOM will reduce its electricity usage by 35% and cut its carbon footprint by 20%.
    • Ofcom support the upgrade from copper to fibre - read about it here.