BT Pauses Digital Voice Rollout Following Complaints

On the 29th of March, BT announced that they have decided to pause the UK rollout of their Voice over IP (VoIP) style Digital Voice services. The new service meant that all calls would be made over a broadband network, rather than the old analogue network that carries calls via copper wire (technology that has remained essentially the same since the invention of telephones). Despite noting the old network is 40+ years old and that this is just one step BT is taking to digitise the UK’s future, it’s clear they went too early as many customers just aren’t ready. We’re here to summarise what Digital Voice is, what went wrong, and BT’s next steps.

Benefits of Digital Voice

Unsurprisingly, during the rollout, BT focused on the clear benefits of Digital Voice. These include great call quality, increased ability to detect scam callers, versatility, and future-proofing with the demands to facilitate modern communications.

In 2025 BT is switching off their old lines (PSTN and ISDN) for everyone in the UK: both business and home lines. A massive shake-up in the communications industry is inevitable and, just like the shift from analogue to digital TV, necessary…despite it sounding a little drastic at first!

It won’t be just BT customers who will need to make these changes, all UK home phone users, with any provider, will need to move to a digital system before 2025.

What went wrong?

BT did announce the digitisation plans in plenty of time, however, their move to Digital Voice was just too soon. Though many people are aware of the plans it arguably happened before many customers (crucially those who rely on landlines) understood why the change is necessary and the steps they need to take.

Also, one of the few advantages of analogue telephone networks is that they still work during power cuts. The Digital Voice rollout coincided with the recent storms of Arwen and Eunice, meaning any failings highlighted the disruption caused to phone lines like storms and power cuts. BT now recognise they have more work to do when establishing backup solutions and ensuring loved ones can still get in contact with one another anytime, including during power outages.

Next Steps

BT have listened to concerns and complaints and acknowledged they have some work to do in order to improve the resilience of their network and ensure backup solutions are ready for customers.

The UK’s telecoms future will still be digital, but the rollout of Digital Voice will be momentarily halted while BT takes the steps to get it right.

This means they’re pausing Digital Voice switch-overs for customers who aren’t ready to make the move. They can now focus on those who don’t want to move, find out why and ensure all customers are aware of why change is coming before 2025 and why it is needed.

Some key solutions currently in development include:

  • hybrid landline phones with the ability to switch to a mobile network when needed;
  • longer-lasting battery backup units in phones for users in rural areas or those who want extra peace of mind;
  • and providing in-home ‘mobile landlines’ for people without broadband.

BT will continue to aid people in getting better network coverage. They also plan to launch an awareness campaign so everyone in the UK understands the need to switch, what it means, and any steps they need to take.

At Microtalk, we’ll keep you updated with the Big With Off latest and how you, and your business, can be ready and part of the change.

Back to Blog