PEOPLE across Braintree who have a landline phone are being warned of a big change coming which will affect businesses and homeowners. 

BT's Big Switch Off involves the phasing out of old technology linked to landlines. 

Instead, people will need to switch to an internet based service. 

For those with an existing broadband connection and a modern phone, this will simply mean unplugging their handset and plugging it into their router.

Businesses and households will no longer be able to buy the old technology from 2023, with it being switched off completely by 2025. 

Braintree Council has said it is aware a minority of households and even some businesses do not have an internet connection and will need to find an alternative option for their phone systems before the switch off.

The switch off will also affect fax machines, some older-style burglar alarms and some types of telecare services used by vulnerable residents.

The council has said phone users do not need to act immediately and should wait until their phone company contacts them to explain the process, due to some fraudsters possibly taking advantage of this situation.

The options include opting for a full broadband package allowing access to digital phone services or instead signing up for one of the new ‘voice only’ internet contracts which will be introduced in the lead-up to the switch off.

Concerns have been raised about the impact of power cuts, particularly in rural parts of the district, and in these instances, the council says the home phone provider should offer a solution such as a battery-operated handset or a battery-run signal booster for mobiles.

Braintree Council economic growth boss Tom Cunningham said: “Whilst this is a step forward which will give us a more reliable and resilient phone service, we are very aware of the digital divide here in the district. For those without an internet connection this will seem a frightening prospect.

“We are urging our residents to share the message with relatives and neighbours who are perhaps older or vulnerable and encourage them to look out for communications from their phone providers.

“We need to make sure all households understand these changes are coming and there will be packages out there to meet their needs.”