Telecommunications: Standards

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 11th February 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure continuity of communication in adverse weather conditions once the Public Switched Telephone Network is turned off in 2025.

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Public Switched Telephone Network is a privately-owned telecoms network and the decision to upgrade it has been taken by the telecoms industry, not the Government. However, the Government and Ofcom are working together to ensure consumers and sectors are protected and prepared for the upgrade process.

Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator, has issued guidance on how telecoms companies can fulfil their regulatory obligation to ensure that their VoIP customers have access to the emergency services during a power outage.

This guidance states that providers should have at least one solution available that enables access to emergency organisations for a minimum of one hour in the event of a power outage in the premises, and that the solution should be suitable for customers’ needs and should be offered free of charge to those who are at risk as they are dependent on their landline. Ofcom’s full guidance is available on its website.

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