1 April 2022
Many of you will have seen BT’s announcement earlier this week (https://newsroom.bt.com/were-pausing-our-digital-voice-plans-for-consumers-while-we-work-on-a-more-resilient-rollout/) which detailed their decision to pause some aspects of the roll-out of digital due to some customers being left with inadequate back up options for their landlines in the event of power failure. A combination of the rurality of some customer’s homes and businesses aligned with the severe disruption caused by recent storms in the UK highlighted that customers could not rely on broadband alone for maintaining communication with the outside world in such circumstances. As a result, BT are working on several potential solutions for those customers and the TSA will continue to be involved in those discussions to ensure that vulnerable alarm users are protected.
Whilst the BT announcement is relevant, it is important to note that the digital migration is driven by the network operator rather than the Communication Provider and BT’s Network Operator is Openreach. The TSA approached Openreach for a statement following BT’s announcement and Openreach have provided the following:
Openreach is continuing to upgrade the UK with Full Fibre broadband, building our new ultrafast, ultra-reliable network to 25m homes and businesses. Our work includes the controlled phasing out of analogue services in areas where Full Fibre becomes available and we're continuing to work towards the 2025 deadline, when BT Group and the wider industry plans to switch off the PSTN.
We welcome BT’s commitment to continuing the trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall, where we’re working closely with them and other providers to iron out issues and make sure customers can be migrated smoothly and efficiently. The BT Consumer announcement does not include the other 600 and more Communications Providers operating in the UK, who will have their own plans for migration of their customers to All IP from PSTN by the end of 2025.
The TSA have also approached Virgin Media O2 as the second largest Network Operator responsible for the digital transition and they have confirmed the following:
“Virgin Media O2 is undertaking essential work to modernise and futureproof our networks to ensure we can continue to offer our customers home phone services. We are committed to continuing to work closely with customers, industry stakeholders, Ofcom, local authorities, charities and other stakeholders to ensure the transfer runs as smoothly as possible. We’re providing additional support to vulnerable customers, including telecare users, and we’ll continue to review our processes to make sure we’re giving our customers the right level of support.”.
The TSA are also working with other leading UK Communications Providers (e.g. Sky, Talk Talk etc…) to ensure that any lessons learned in the handling of the migration of vulnerable alarm users from analogue to digital are implemented to improve the overall process.
In summary, whilst the announcement from BT that they are pausing some aspects of the migration to consider what additional safeguards should be put in place for the vulnerable, this should not be seen as an opportunity to pause any migration planning and action that should be taking place from any stakeholder in the Technology Enabled Care industry.
The TSA will also be continuing to support all stakeholders within the industry with the following to support the transition to digital:
All Service Providers have been provided with a template in the last two weeks to provide dialled numbers and many Alarm Receiving Centres have been approached to provide call history data to support the UK wide analysis of call failure rates both now and in the future – please respond to these requests as quickly as possible.
Any questions regarding this statement or any other questions related to the digital migration, please contact the TSA All IP team at ALLIP@tsa-voice.org.uk or 01625 520320