BT has halted its plans to replace landline phones with digital ones, in a move welcomed by rural campaigners.

The company said the decision to pause the changes was made following feedback from customers.

The rollout, which saw copper landlines replaced in favour of fibre-optic cables, resulted in some customers, including people living in Wiltshire, being unable to call emergency services during stormy weather.

BT and other telecom companies had pledged to equip all homes with digital "voice over internet phones" by 2025.

The Countryside Alliance had raised its concerns over the move affecting those living in rural areas, where mobile connectivity can be poor or non-existent.

Sarah Lee, the alliance’s director of policy, said: “It may seem like an obvious transition for those that don’t rely on their landline telephone, but the reality for many living in rural areas is that they are not yet in a position to move over to digital.”

“Those who live and work in the countryside must not be subject to a communications blackout and are pleased to see that BT has listened to the concerns.”

Marc Allera, BT’s chief executive of consumer brands, apologised and said BT had “underestimated the disruptive impact this upgrade would have”. He added that “in hindsight” the technology had been rolled out “too early”.