Julia Somerville discusses changes to BT landline system
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The broadband and communications provider is currently in the process of switching away from traditional landline handsets as part of a huge digital changeover. BT’s new digital phone will be used instead of a landline. This will result in households being pushed to online ahead of the switch taking place in 2025. Compared to a traditional landline, the phone will be powered by electricity and will require an internet connection to make calls.
BT has previously reassured customers that the rollout will be slow and landline customers will be supported every step of the way.
Upon announcing the launch, the telecommunications company promised to reach out to customers about the change before it was implemented.
This was in order to keep consumers informed as soon as possible to make sure they knew how they would be affected.
Despite this, consumer experts are warning that pensioners across the UK are being left isolated following the decision as many older people rely on a traditional landline.
Consumer watchdogs Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville are among those pushing for change.
Earlier today, the hosts of Rip-Off Britain addressed the inadvertent impact the switch to the digital model has had on older households in the UK while appearing on BBC One’s Morning Live.
Appearing on the current affairs programme, Ms Somerville shared the story of one pensioner whose health pendant stopped working following the shift from a landline.
She explained: “BT are changing the whole way our landlines work. They’re basically changing from an old copper wire system to a new digital thing which is connected to the internet.
“It’s all fine and good if you’ve got a good internet connection and if nothing else in your life is complicated but I went to meet the family of a man who’d been diagnosed with dementia and wears one of those pendant alarms.
“It cost quite a lot of money, costing almost £4,000 to buy it and they are meant to last for five years.
“But three years down the line, BT got in touch to say this whole new system was about to happen and the pendant stopped working.”
She added: “That’s just a typical example of people who suddenly feel alarmed.
“For instance, this man has lost his independence because his wife and daughter don’t like him to go out on his own if he doesn’t have a working pendant.
“That is just one example. We have others but I also have a message from BT since we did the filming.
“They’ve apologised for the inconvenience and the concern the upgrade has caused so far and have decided to temporarily pause the rollout of the new digital lines until it’s ‘confident that the right products and solutions are in place’.”
In a statement on BT’s website, Marc Allera, the CEO of the company’s consumer division, 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. We got this part of our programme wrong and for that, we’re sorry.”
Express.co.uk has contacted BT asking for comment.
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