End of traditional landline phones as BT makes MASSIVE change sparking fears for millions of elderly and vulnerable

BT is set to make a massive change to landlines sparking fears that millions of elderly and vulnerable households will be cut off, charities have warned.

The telecoms giant is making a change to its network which means traditional home phones will have to be replaced with new digital phones, which will require all homes to have an internet connection.

Charities are concerned the switchover will negatively impact elderly people


Charities are concerned the switchover will negatively impact elderly peopleCredit: Getty – Contributor

BT launched its Digital Voice changeover plan two years ago, which means all phones will have to be able to get online.

It’s hoping that the switch, which has been compared to the changeover from analogue to digital TV, will be completed by 2025.

Everything that is connected to phone lines will need to be reviewed such as door entry systems and alarms.

But there are concerns from charities that elderly or vulnerable Brits could be left isolated by the move.

Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams told The Mirror: ‘We are concerned the changes could make many elderly feel more isolated than they do already.

“Steps must also be taken to ensure the vulnerable do not become victims of any digital voice scams.”

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, told local paper Chronicle Live: “If there is a power cut, this digital phone line will no longer work – and a potential lifeline for elderly people will be suddenly lost.

“Those needing to make an emergency call or raise an alarm via a health pendant could be left stranded – and unable to call anyone to ask for life-saving support.”

“BT has no idea that many older people do not want a fancy smartphone or cannot afford one – and rely on their landline as a lifeline.

“It is wrong to discriminate against those – primarily the elderly – who are not wired up to the internet,” Shortt said.

Industry regulator Ofcom says around 6% of households don’t have access to the internet.

That amounts to around 1.5million homes, who would have to either get a broadband connection or a new mobile phone.

As well as the connection issue, elderly people’s charities are concerned the switchover could leave people vulnerable to scams.

A BT spokesperson said: “We’re rolling this upgrade out in a staggered way. Customers who only have a landline will not be upgraded to Digital Voice until the latter part of 2023, and will not have to take a broadband service unless they want it.”

BT said that it has been working with alarm and health providers to prepare them for the change since 2018.

But customers will need to contact their provider ahead of the upgrade.

It also added that it is not discriminating customers.

A BT spokesperson said:  “For some of our landline only customers, an internet connection is either not available or unwanted.

“And where broadband is unavailable, we’re looking into new solutions which use our 4G mobile network to connect a familiar looking home phone handset.

“We’ll be sharing more information on this solution later next year.

“For customers who don’t want broadband, we will simply upgrade their landline to a Digital Voice line (free of charge).

“We promise not to leave any customer without a connection. We also promise to ensure that all our customers will have been sent enough information, well ahead of their upgrade.”

“If any customer has any concerns they should speak to us and we’ll find a solution which works for them.”

BT says that vulnerable customers will be given battery packs, for free, which can power equipment for over an hour. Other customers will have to pay for them.

TalkTalk is offering new users a £75 voucher for switching to its Fibre 65 broadband deal.

Millions of Brits on Universal Credit and other benefits are missing out on cheap broadband deals that could save them hundreds of pounds a year.

BT is offering customers three months of free broadband in a series of Black Friday deals.

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