Stop Smart Meters NZ has received a lot queries in relation to the 2018 legislation – The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Act that provides for a phasing out of access to the copper landline system in parts of New Zealand where there are fibre optics.

Removal of the copper landline system would mean that people lose access to the safe copper landline based phones that will work whether or not a home has power and also lose access to the low cost internet option that this infrastructure facilitates.  However it is still possible to have a safe hardwired internet and phone system by connecting to the fibre network.

One of the questions received by Stop Smart Meters NZ is as follows:

Can you have a corded phone if you have only fibre optics in your home?

The answer to this question is basically yes, but there are a few additional important facts to consider.

Voice Quality

The voice quality over VOIP phones can be poorer than traditional corded landline phones that use the copper phone line network and this may be a problem for people who have hearing deficits and and/or those who are communicating on the phone in a language that is not their mother tongue.

(Please note that the voice quality may vary with the type of phone.  Also, the settings used within a fibre system can impact on voice quality when using a phone with a fibre system.  If you are setting up a fibre based phone and internet system, let your  provider know that good voice quality on the phone is important to you and ask what needs to be done to achieve the highest possible voice quality.)

Options For Safe Corded Phones With Fibre

If you move to a fibre only system your existing corded landline phone may not work as it is probably designed for copper only.

However, in some cases you may be able to use your existing copper landline phone.

Option A

The Residential Gateway installed as part of a fibre system may have a POTS (“Plain Old Telephone Service”) port.  If this is the case, you can plug a normal corded phone into this port as it should work with the same phone that you use with the copper system.

Option B

If the Residential Gateway installed at your home does not have a POTS port*  another option to have a safe corded phone is to buy a device called an ATA (“Analog Telephone Adaptor”) that provides a POTS port into which you can plug in the same type of phone that you use with the copper network.

Option C

You could buy a corded VOIP phone and plug this directly into your Residential Gateway in order to have a safe corded phone. From a quick look online, corded VOIP phones start at around $100 each. (VOIP stands for “Voice Over Internet Protocol”.)

Phones that Connect to the Fibre System Will Fail During a Power Blackout – Unless YOU Buy a Backup System

Another important factor to consider is that a VOIP phone (or any phone that is connected via the Residential Gateway to the fibre system) is dependent on mains electricity to work.  This means that unlike the good old copper landline corded phone system –  which will usually work in a power black out –  a VOIP phone (or any other phone that is connected into the fibre system) will NOT function if you lose power.

NB: If you have a cell phone, don’t count on your cell phone to work if you lose electricity, either, as a local power outage could cut power to cellular phone infrastructure resulting in no cellular phone service.

Options For Maintaining a Working Phone During a Power Blackout

It is possible to buy a component of a fibre system called a UPS  (“Uninterruptible Power Supply”) which acts as a back-up so that your VOIP phone (or other phone connected to the fibre system will work during a power black out – provided the local cabinet that runs the fibre system in your area does not itself lose power and/or has adequate battery back up itself.  Unfortunately these back-up systems are not cheap. One UPS I saw online recommended by a NZ telecommunications company was $380 + GST.  There are less expensive options on the NZ market, though.

The time that a UPS may be able to keep your phone running before its batteries are drained may be variable; it could be as a little as 10 hours. (Obviously the running time of a UPS system is something that should be investigated prior to deciding what system to buy.)

For those who have appropriate technical expertise, a solar panel could be another option to use as part of  a back-up system for a phone connected to the fibre network.

UPS systems can contain lithium ion batteries which are an explosion risk in the event of a fire.


So, to sum it up you can have a corded landline if you have fibre only but it may you cost more if you have to buy a new phone or an adaptor.  Moreover,  your phone won’t work if you lose power – unless you buy a UPS which is not part of the standard fibre systems being installed so this would represent an extra cost.

(If anyone has information about how long different brands of  UPS have worked during actual power black outs in NZ, please email through our contact form: )

In short, a basic corded phone that works through the copper landline system provides an economical and safe home phone that will currently work even if you lose power.  However, if you are in an area from which the copper service is being withdrawn, you should still be able to have a safe corded phone for home use by using one of the options outlined above.

* An example of a Residential Gateway with a POTS port may be seen below

Special issues for people who are electrosensitive

Most people who have become electrosensitive can use a basic corded home phone that works through the copper landline system.

However, a fibre system that includes all hardwired components may be fine for many people who are electrosensitive.

Please see this link for information about how to have a hardwired internet connection via the fibre system at this link:

More information about electrosensitivity may be found at these links:

A helpful paper on electromagnetic sensitivity by Dr. Mallery-Blythe

Retired CEO speaks out on electrosensitivity

Electrohypersensitivity – a short film by Time magazine free to watch online

What is it like to live with electrohypersensitivity (EHS)? One woman’s story

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