It seems to have passed most people by – but it would appear that the technology that currently powers landline telephones is to be switched off in 2025.

The Public Switched Telephone Network) (PSTN) which has provided us with telephone service for over 100 years is, we are told, based on 19th century technology and delivered via copper wires.

Last week, it was announced that landline operators in the UK will switch every home phone in the country to an internet-based connection instead of traditional, copper-wire landlines. A total of 14m lines are affected.

Openreach – the organisation which actually maintains the infrastructure of lines and cables (and which occasionally deigns to repair faults!) claims the old system’s days are numbered – and they’ve already started work on the switch over to running the phone lines via voice over internet protocol (VOIP), like Zoom or Skype.

Fear not, though they claim that the population shouldn’t panic because the vast majority of customers with BT, Sky, Virgin or whatever other service provider, will be able to seamlessly connect to their router for continued connection to the nation’s telephone network.

A bit of a glib statement, however, for while ‘the vast majority’ might be able to access superfast fibre optic services which will replace the good old copper wire, it’s not available everywhere. While 98% of customers might be in a position to simply cough up and plumb into a fibre-optic service, Ofcom's figures show that 2% of homes in the UK are unable to access a ‘basic’ 10mbps broadband connection.

Now, I might be wrong, but reading between the lines it looks like what they’re saying is that if you’re currently reliant solely on the old-fashioned copper cables to supply not only your phone line but your sub-standard broadband as well, without access to optic cables you’re kinda stuffed.

So, living a bit off the beaten track, I don’t have to think for too long to work out that customers like myself who live at the end of a very old, very long, very thin copper wire are likely to be even further marginalised when the service is cut off in a few year’s time.

“We'll be switching off the existing analogue network by December 31, 2025, and everyone in the UK will need to have a digital phone line before then. To help us prepare we'll also stop selling analogue phone lines to new customers by September, 2023,” chirped Openreach, as if that should make all the difference.

Another couple of points of interest have been pretty well buried and that’s the fact that a lot of alarm and monitoring systems which are reliant on the old system will no longer operate after the changeover – as has the fact that, unlike the current situation where old-style directly connected phones still work during power cuts, allowing access to emergency services to be maintained, VOIP ones won’t.

So, I for one, would like the option of hanging on to the telephone.

At the risk of digressing, though, in an entirely unrelated story I also heard that a think tank had floated the idea of delivering broadband to rural areas via the public water supply. Crazy as it seems they were apparently thinking of running fibre optic cables up the pipes – and they claimed that this would make accessing the internet as simple as accessing fresh water.

While I’d hate to be the one to rain on their parade, I feel that someone should explain to them that a lot of rural houses don’t have access to such supplies – and rely on private water supplies. Perhaps the world-wide web will magically sprout from boreholes around the country. You could say ... hope springs eternal.

Anyhoo, the importance of connectivity has certainly been pressed home over the past couple of weeks and while I am determined not to jinx any prospect of the decent harvest weather continuing by mentioning it, it has been a grand spell.

But with all the crops ripening at the same time, there’s a been a real push to get things cut, sampled and off to the merchants as soon as possible in order to make sure there’s enough spare shed space to store the next field to be cut.

One day last week, I reckoned that between e-mails, texts, WhatsApp messages, phone calls and visits to the grain merchant’s on-line portal I’d fired off or responded to a good 50 messages by mid-morning.

It certainly brought home just how reliant we are on modern communications and while much of this traffic was conducted over 4G, rather than the landline, this service can be pretty patchy without the back-up of landline internet.

While I’m on a roll with ranting, though, I might as well point out that not a few of these calls were associated with the decision of our local council to close a three-mile stretch of road which serves several farms, including ours, for resurfacing work over the peak of harvest time.

On our own stretch, there are five farms hauling grain along this small C-class road, all with several outlying units, which means that at peak times there’s hardly a minute’s break in the flow of tractors and trailers running in both directions, with gateways and road-ends the only passing places even in normal circumstances.

Add into that the need to move combines, headers and associated paraphernalia along with balers, straw trailers – and not forgetting the 45-tonne articulated lorries to take the grain away – and the road goes like a fair for those few short weeks.

Now, I don’t know whether Perth and Kinross Council have had their landline cut early – while simultaneously falling into a mysterious 4G signal ‘not-spot’ – but dozens of phone calls and e-mails to the various officials and departments involved in making this crazy decision seemed to fall on deaf ears.

For every ‘phone seemed to remain unanswered, go onto a voice-mail service which never elicited a reply or, probably most infuriating of all, chirpily announced that the employee was off on holiday for a fortnight.

I’d have to say that our local MSP, Jim Fairlie, has been pretty good in backing our cause, our local councillor wasn’t as swift off the mark and when we did hear from him it was only to say that the closure couldn’t be postponed because he’d been told the wording of the agreement with the contractors actually carrying out the work meant that it would cost the council £100,000 to postpone, or cancel the work.

The fact that the job had originally been due to be carried out in May this year and had subsequently been delayed by the contractors, curiously didn’t seem to have any bearing on this situation though.

Reassurances that agricultural traffic would still be allowed access haven’t cut any ice – because it’s not difficult to imagine how a surly team of roadworkers will react to having to up tools every 10 minutes to let tractors and combines through, especially as they’ll have to find some place to shift to let them past. I can only imagine the effect which running a few 45-tonne artics over newly laid tarmac will have on the overall finish of the road!

Though it's difficult enough in normal years to get a lorry in to haul the grain away just when you want it, by the time you factor in this year’s acute shortage of lorry drivers and the knock-on consequences which the collapse of Alexander Inglis' grain business has had on storage facilities, throwing in a closed road and obstreperous roadworkers ain’t gonna help the situation.

So, as far as lines of communication are concerned, cutting off our internet might send us back to the 20th century and losing the landline might see us fall back to the 19th – but not having a road to drive on plummets us back to before the Romans.