On 29th March 2022, news landed that BT is pausing the rollout of Digital Voice. BT have said they will not be automatically updating their customers to Digital Voice if the customer is not prepared for the upgrade and chooses not to be upgraded just yet.1
Digital Voice is BT’s new home phone service that is being ushered in alongside a fundamental change to how our phone calls are connected.
For decades, telephone calls have worked using the landline or ‘analogue’ PSTN network. In 2025, however, Openreach will be shutting off the landline telephone network in favour of moving to an all-digital system where our calls are connected over broadband internet.
Marc Allera, CEO of the Consumer Division at BT said:
“We underestimated the disruptive impact this upgrade would have on some of our customers. With hindsight we went too early, before many customers – particularly those who rely more heavily on landlines – understood why this change is necessary and what they needed to do. We also recognise we have more work to do on getting better back-up solutions in place for when things disrupt the service like storms and power cuts.” 1
At the time of writing, Openreach has not yet commented on whether this will affect their plans to switch off the analogue phone network in 2025.
Why is BT pausing the rollout?
One of many reasons for pausing the rollout is thanks to the recent storm activity across the UK. Storms Dudley and Eunice caused several power outages lasting several days throughout the country.
Ultimately, BT has admitted to underestimating the impact the upgrade would have on people and that, in hindsight, they didn’t do enough to ensure many people – such as careline alarm users – understood why the change was happening and what steps they needed to take to embrace it.1
BT want to ensure that the switchover from analogue to digital is as smooth a transition as possible, and is currently aiming to restart the rollout once they have put key provisions in place, including:
- Hybrid phones that can switch to a mobile network and have an in-built, long-lasting battery.
- The option of longer-lasting battery backup units for BT customers who want or need them.
- Providing in-home ‘mobile landlines’ for people without broadband.
- Addressing so-called mobile ‘not-spots’, with continued investment in the Shared Rural Network.
- Launching an awareness campaign so that BT customers better understand the need to switch.
- Continuing to proactively engage the related industries – like healthcare pendants (aka careline alarms) and burglar alarm providers to ensure BT’s most vulnerable customers continue to get the service they need.
- Advancements to scam-call shielding and fraud reduction tools, that they know are becoming ever more important to our users of landlines.
I am a BT customer and haven’t been upgraded; how can I pause the upgrade?
If you are a BT customer and are contacted regarding the upgrade to Digital Voice, and you are not ready for the change or what it may mean for your careline alarm service, you can simply say ‘no’.
Advise them you have a careline alarm – along with any other concerns or queries you may have about the change. BT will then be able to discuss your concerns with you and should reassure you that nothing will change until you understand why and know what you need to do as a result.
If you have been informed that you’re going to be upgraded soon and are not sure if you would like to proceed just yet – you can contact BT directly to discuss pausing the upgrade.
Learn more about moving to Digital Voice
This link will take you to BT’s own FAQs about the move to Digital Voice.
Moving to Digital Voice
It is unlikely that you can say no to the upgrade indefinitely, but you can pause it long enough to provide enough time to make sure everything is in place in your home, and that you feel confident about what you need to do to maintain your invaluable lifeline alarm service before being upgraded.
If you or a loved one have a careline alarm at home and want to know more about the Digital Switchover and what it means for your lifeline, take a look at our guide, linked below, for everything you need to know.
I am a BT customer and have been upgraded; can I undo this?
If you have already been upgraded, we advise you to contact BT directly if you would like to discuss your account and the upgrade.
I use a different telephone provider, what does this mean for me?
Other companies such as Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk may continue with their own conversions but have yet to comment on BT’s most recent announcement.2
If you are not a BT home phone customer and are with a different phone company for your landline calls, we recommend contacting your provider to get an update on their plans for your upgrade.
Update for Virgin Media customers: In April 2022, Virgin Media announced they have also paused the digital upgrade for their broadband customers that they know are also careline alarm users. If you are a Virgin Media broadband customer and you have a careline alarm, you should contact Virgin Media as soon as possible to let them know you have a careline alarm and that you want to ensure your monitoring service is not interrupted.
At Telecare24, we welcome BT’s announcement as this will provide more time for our careline alarm customers who may not be ready for the change to digital phone lines.
Above all, we hope this pause in the rollout of BT’s Digital Voice will give peace of mind to many of our customers who rely on us and their Telecare24 alarm to keep them safe at home.
We will continue to update you with updates regarding the Digital Switchover as they come to light.
More information on the Digital Switchover
Learn more about the switchover and its impact on health pendant users