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Timeline Extended for Digital Switchover

5 June 2024

BT Group has announced an extension of the timeline to transform its phone networks from analogue to digital systems. Initially scheduled for completion by 31st December 2025, the revised timetable has been extended to 31st January 2027 due to concerns regarding the impact of the change on elderly and vulnerable customers.

The 13-month extension follows the publication of the Government’s charter to protect vulnerable customers, ensuring the safe switch from analogue to digital landlines. However, most Local Authorities schedule IT change freezes in December to mitigate the risks that modifications could cause over a period when, traditionally, many staff are on annual leave. When taking into consideration the post-Christmas catch-up, in reality, the extension is less than 12 months.

Timeline Extended for Digital Switchover

 

While BT Group have announced the new timetable, it is important to note that different telecommunication providers may have varying timelines. At the time of posting, Chiptech understands Virgin Media still aims to complete its migration by the end of 31st December 2025.

Urgency to Switch Remains

Whilst the additional time is welcomed, Chiptech, along with the Technology Enabled Care (TEC) governing body, the Telecare Services Association (TSA), and BT Business, urge all to maintain the positive momentum in migration efforts made so far and engage with the digital switchover as soon as possible. This is critical in ensuring the process is as safe, comprehensive, and minimally disruptive as possible.

The switchover is an absolute endpoint for the A2D transition, not the start, meaning that organisations should not delay their transformation plans with the news of the revised timetable. The reliability of analogue TEC systems over digital phone lines is decreasing day by day, highlighting further the urgency of transitioning to a reliable digital solution sooner rather than later.

Here at Chiptech, we continue to work closely with customers, partners, and regulators to optimise their transition journey. We remain entirely focused on the switchover and have been ready for it for some time, providing the most resilient, fully digital solution available.

Chiptech’s CEO David Hammond said, “We are pleased to see a small extension in the analogue to digital rollout from Openreach, although we urge service providers not to delay the migration of critical lifeline services and alarms to digital. An increasing volume of failed call rates are being seen within the industry, and any further delay will have drastic consequences to those relying on TEC services if action is not taken urgently.”

In a statement issued by BT Group, Howard Watson, Chief Security and Networks Officer, 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.”

Switchover History

As part of The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, which was published in 2018, the UK Government announced that the telecommunications infrastructure, which has been used for decades based on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) using copper lines for analogue voice communication, has become outdated, unreliable, and difficult to maintain. With parts often challenging to source or even discontinued, the network was coming to the end of its service and would need to be replaced with a digital system, moving all voice services to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).

For most of the UK population, the transition is quick and has no negative impact. However, the switchover dramatically impacts the 1.7 million users relying on (TEC), particularly those still on analogue care alarms, as these are at risk of not working as a result of the switchover.

If you have any questions regarding the analogue to digital switchover and what this means to you and your customers, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01524 544427 or email support@chiptech.com.

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