BT extends digital switchover deadline

UK telco BT Group has revised its timeline plans to move all customers off the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) onto digital landlines by 2025.

The company said it comes following the introduction of a series of improvements to the programme to better protect vulnerable customers and those with additional needs, including telecare users who might be impacted negatively by the transition.

The UK government introduced new measures at the end of last year to protect vulnerable customers as phone lines are upgraded to a new digital network.

BT has re-started switching zero-use landline customers who have a broadband connection to its Digital Voice landline service. The telco has urged all of its customers to engage in talks early and to partner with the company ahead of making the switch.

It comes as part of telco’s wider strategy to BT Group’s aims to build a full fibre broadband infrastructure which will be available to 25 million premises by the end of 2026. The new plan will see the majority of customers move from its copper-based analogue services to fibre  by the end of January 2027.

In April, BT resumed non-voluntary migrations for customers who have not used their landline in the last 12 months and do not identify as vulnerable or have additional needs. During the Summer the operator will ramp-up those non-voluntary migrations for invulnerable customer, in areas where data sharing agreements have been signed with the local authority or telecare provider.

The company said for customers who don’t use broadband, which includes landline-only consumer customers and business customers with specialist connectivity requirements, including some alarms, lift and emergency lines, ATMs and payment terminals, it is working on an interim, dedicated landline service designed to keep these customers connected while moving them off the analogue PSTN.

Howard Watson, Chief Security and Networks Officer, BT Group, said: “The urgency for switching customers onto digital services grows by the day because the 40-year-old analogue landline technology is increasingly fragile. Managing customer migrations from analogue to digital as quickly and smoothly as possible, while making the necessary provisions for those customers with additional needs, including telecare users, is critically important.

“Our priority remains doing this safely and the work we’re doing with our peers, local authorities, telecare providers and key Government organisations is key. But more needs to be done and we need all local authorities and telecare providers to share with us the phone lines where they know there’s a telecare user,” he added.

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