Major changes coming to the telecommunications world!

The Copper Network is being retired in the telecommunications industry!
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Change is coming to the telecommunications (telco) industry. 

We get it. Change is scary. In the last few decades, there has been so much technological change that it often feels overwhelming. Yet, there’s no signs of things slowing down. This includes the telco world which is currently undergoing a major change. 

The latest change is the withdrawal of the Copper Network, with network providers switching to Voice over IP (VoIP) services. 

What’s the Copper Network? What’s VoIP? Don’t stress, we’ll cover all of this! 

Here’s everything you need to know about the newest change in the telco world! 

A Copper Network

To get your head around what’s happening, let’s first talk about how the telecommunications industry (the one which provides us with phone and broadband services) started in Aotearoa. 

The telephone lines arrived in Aotearoa in the late 19th Century. Soon after, copper lines were laid down across the motu to form the main telephone network. This Copper Network was focused on delivering one service, voice calling. 

The network was slow and mechanical, with some areas having to be connected by staff on switchboards, up until the 1980s. However, that changed with the introduction of the Public Switched Telephone Network.

Ushering in a new era

From the 1980s, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) was created. It used the Copper Network but vastly improved services through new automated systems which replaced the switchboards. The technology was digital, so calls could be put through much easier, and at a much lower cost.  

In the 1990s, a big change happened. The internet was born! Soon, customers were less interested in making calls and more intrigued to get their computer hooked up to the internet. It started with Dial Up, then moved to entry-level broadband, then to ADSL and VDSL, and now to today where we have Fibre.  

The future is VoIP

As we continue to embrace the internet and all it has to offer, this means we have to let go of older technologies that can no longer keep up. This includes the Copper Network and PSTN. This network is ageing quickly. It’s becoming increasingly hard to find parts or technicians to repair various faults. 

So, telco providers are now switching to Voice over IP (VoIP) services instead of the PSTN. VoIP, simply put, is voice calling over the internet. As this involves different technologies than the PSTN, you’ll likely have to make some changes to your setup, if you still want to use your home phone handset. 

Spark and Vodafone have already started letting customers know that they are moving to VoIP services.  

What do you need to do? 

The Copper Network provides the foundations for the PSTN and ADSL and VDSL broadband. So, there are two different approaches you’ll have to take depending on how you’re affected (whether it’s your home phone or internet that you have to change). 

Home phone

The system that allows you to use your home phone or telephone is being phased out. If you’re someone who is affected by this change, your provider will inform you. They will let you know what your options are but it will likely come down to two choices. 

1). Move to a new technology like VoIP for your home phone. 

2). Disconnect your home phone and switch to a mobile phone. 

The move to VoIP services is happening gradually, with providers working from one neighbourhood to the next. If you don’t live rurally but still use a home phone through the PSTN, then expect your provider to contact you soon. 

As Spark runs the PSTN and other providers use their network, you won’t be able to stay on a copper-based home phone connection by switching providers. 

However, the good news is that you can keep your existing number when you switch to VoIP services or even if you switch providers.  

Important note: You won’t be able to use your home phone during a power outage, as VoIP services work through the internet and require electricity. So, you’ll need to plan for emergencies, like making sure you have a charged mobile phone. 


Some Kiwis may still be on an ADSL or VDSL connection for their broadband. This connection uses the Copper Network. 

The plan to phase out ADSL and VDSL is happening much more gradually than the retirement of the PSTN. It will mainly impact those who live in cities or towns. In some instances, you may be able to keep your ADSL or VDSL broadband after your home phone connection is cut. 

You also may be able to switch providers and continue receiving ADSL or VDSL, if your current provider decides to ditch the technology. However, keep in mind that eventually all providers will be moving away from copper-based connections. 

If you’re still on ADSL or VDSL and Fibre is available in your area, chances are Chorus will notify you that you need to switch broadband connections. There are plenty of alternative options for you to choose like Fibre or Wireless.

Getting Fibre now at your place may be the best option to save you any stress later down the track. Fibre is super fast and usually free to install (however, this could change).


What if I live rurally? 

For those who live rurally and don’t have access to Fibre, you will still be able to use the Copper Network for both phone and broadband services. 

Chorus has remained committed to supporting these communities who still rely on the Copper Network for their communication needs. 

So don’t stress! You’ll still be able to use phone and internet services without disruption if you live rurally. 

Use Mobile Compare!

Are you switching from a home phone to a mobile phone? 

Then you need to head to Mobile Compare

Mobile Compare is a comparison website where you can compare all the latest mobile plans. You’ll find a deal that suits your life and your budget! 

Best of all, it’s super simple to use! 

Just follow these easy steps:

  • Jump onto Mobile Compare
  • Click on New Plan. 
  • Select how much data, minutes and texts you’re after. 
  • Select the type of plan you want (Prepay or Monthly).
  • Choose which provider you’re interested in (you can select multiple).
  • Hit enter!
  • Browse all the plans available to you & compare them side-by-side! 
  • Find one you like and switch!

If you need to buy a new phone, then head to PriceMe!

Also, if you’re changing from ADSL or VDSL to another connection like Fibre, head to Broadband Compare



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