BT’s removal of traditional landlines sparks fear in millions of elderly and vulnerable households

BT’s plan to phase out traditional landlines has raised fears that millions of elderly and vulnerable households will experience power cuts.

The telecom giant is replacing landlines with new digital phones, which will require all homes to have an internet connection.

Charities fear the transition will negatively affect older people


Charities fear the transition will negatively impact older peopleCredit: Getty – Contributor

BT kicked off its Digital Voice migration plan two years ago, which means all phones will have to be able to connect to the network.

It is expected that the transition, compared with the shift from analog to digital television, will be completed by 2015.

Everything that is connected to the phone line will need to be reviewed such as door systems and alarm systems.

But there are concerns that elderly or vulnerable Britons could be isolated by the move.

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Association of Pensioners, told the local paper Live Chronicles: “If the power goes out, this digital phone line becomes inoperable – and a potential lifesaver for the elderly is suddenly lost.

“People who need to make an emergency call or raise an alarm via a health pendant could be trapped – and unable to call anyone to request life-saving assistance.”

Industry regulator Ofcom says about 6% of households do not have access to the Internet.

That amounts to about 1.5 million homes, who will have to get a new broadband connection or mobile phone.

“BT is not of the opinion that many older people don’t want a fancy smartphone or can’t afford one – and rely on their landline as a lifeline.

“It’s wrong to discriminate against people – mainly elderly people – who don’t have an Internet connection,” Shortt said.

As well as connectivity issues, elderly charities fear the switch could leave people vulnerable to fraud.

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams told Mirror: ‘We are concerned the changes could leave many older people feeling more isolated than they already do.

“Steps must also be taken to ensure vulnerable people do not fall victim to any digital voice scams.”

The Sun has contacted BT for comments.

TalkTalk is offer new users a £75 voucher to switch to its Fiber 65 broadband deal.

Millions of Britons using Universal Credit and other benefits are missing out Cheap broadband deals that could save them hundreds of pounds a year.

BT is providing customers three months of free broadband in a range of Black Friday deals.

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Bobby Allyn

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