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BT hastens mass move away from ‘fragile’ PSTN

Staff Reporter
May 20, 2024

BT Group has started moving broadband-only connections off copper to digital landlines over full fibre broadband as part of its goal to switch all customers off the current PSTN by January 2027.

BT Consumer has resumed non-voluntary migrations for customers who haven’t used their landline in 12 months and who aren’t classified as vulnerable or live in areas with data-sharing agreements. Migrations will ramp up for non-vulnerable customers in these areas.

The urgency to switch to digital grows daily as the 40-year-old analogue technology becomes more fragile”

Non-broadband users will stay connected to the PSTN until a digital solution is available or until 2030. This includes alarm and emergency lines.

Howard Watson, Chief Security and Networks Officer, BT Group, stated:

The urgency to switch to digital grows daily as the 40-year-old analogue technology becomes more fragile. Quick and smooth migrations, with provisions for additional needs and telecare users, are crucial. Our focus is on safety, and we need all local authorities and telecare providers to share telecare user phone lines with us

Next Spring, BT will contact vulnerable customers in areas with data-sharing agreements, providing support during the switch. All customers will be notified at least four weeks in advance, with engineering appointments and additional support provided.

BT is asking businesses to move to all-digital networks to future-proof operations. Businesses are being urged to review their technology and test equipment for free.

BT is taking steops to help people classed as vulnerable navijgate the switch away from the PSTN.  Measures include:

•Providing free battery backup units to customers with additional needs, such as those with health pendants, over 70, or without mobile coverage.

*Offering customers a hybrid phone with an eight-hour battery backup, allowing calls over the mobile network during power outages.

* Scheduling engineering appointments for vulnerable customers who can nominate a family member, friend, or carer to assist with the switch. Vulnerable customers will automatically receive necessary equipment and won’t be switched until they’ve spoken to an advisor and booked an appointment.

*Offering in-home support for telecare users. An Openreach engineer will assist customers in switching from analogue to digital landlines and ensure the telecare device works before leaving. If not, the engineer will revert the customer to an analogue landline.

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