Concerns about the new Digital Phone Switchover in Wales
Be cautious of the digital upgrade
Phone & Internet users in Cardiff have been given notice or have been offered an "upgrade" to a fully digital system. Many phone users in Cardiff are already using the system! This means that in future, landline calls will be delivered over digital technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which uses a broadband connection.
There are currently a great deal of concerns about this for some users.
The new "digital" system will require that your conventional telephone system will be dissconnected and cease to work, and you will need to plug your current phone into a new "digital" router. If you have any other services such as a RED button alert system that calls for help or assistnce, that will also have to be plugged into the new system.
Is there a problem with the new digital phone service?
In short, if the whole system is working then it will be a good thing. However, if just one part of the system doesn't work, the system will not work unless you have a backup system. The system depends on the Internet working fully, which will be dependent on the following:
- The Internet must be working fully. As you will know, this is not always the case
- The new digital router must be functioning fully. If you have ever had a faulty router you will understand how routers can fail.
- The power supply for the router must be working. These are very reliable, but this is one more dependency to rely on.
- Your power must be working. In a power cut for example, your phone system will not work, and this may be exactly when you need to call 999 for help or assistance.
During recent powercuts across large areas of the UK, power was cut for many days, yet vulnerable people were still able to use their "old fashioned" phone to contact the emergency services or family. the old system is indeed old technology but it has been very very reliable.
According to OFCOM:
"If you rely on your landline - for example, you don’t have a mobile phone, you’re unable to use a mobile phone or you don’t have mobile signal inside your home - your provider must make sure you are able to contact the emergency services during a power cut. This could be in the form of battery back-up so your landline will continue to work, or giving you a basic mobile phone to use in this situation."
This situation has yet to be resolved by BT. At this point, it looks like additional equipment with additional costs will be required.
What should I do?
If you are offered an upgrade to the new system, then carefully consider the full implecations of the switch over.
This will mostly affect users who don't have a mobile phone and that often means the most vulernable people.
What is our opinion?
The system changeover has clearly been rushed through too quickly with promises of higher quality phone calls yet has cpmpletely ignored the needs of the most vunlerable.