Voice over Internet Protocol

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 16th June 2022.

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Photo of Alberto Costa Alberto Costa Conservative, South Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with representatives of BT on ensuring that vulnerable users will not be disadvantaged by the move to Digital Voice.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

Whilst the move to digital voice is industry led, DCMS and Ofcom regularly engage with BT to ensure vulnerable groups are supported throughout the upgrade process. Ofcom’s guidance on providing access to emergency services during a power outage includes requirements that providers engage in effective communications to ensure all customers understand the risk associated with the migration. Additionally, Ofcom has also published more general guidance on how providers can treat vulnerable customers fairly.

BT recently announced it would pause its provider-led migration of customers until new resilient technologies, such as longer-lasting battery back-up units and 4G-capable handsets, become available. Whilst this announcement does not affect the 2025 date by which Openreach intends to close the PSTN, BT has said the delay will allow it more time to proactively engage related industries - such as telecare and burglar alarm providers - to ensure their most vulnerable customers continue to get the services they need.

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