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Will my personal alarm still work after the digital telephone switchover?

Sep 29, 2021

What is the digital telephone switchover?

You may have recently heard about the upcoming digital telephone switchover in the media. BT has announced that by the end of 2025 all analogue telephone lines will be upgraded to the new ‘Digital Voice’ service.

These digital lines will use the internet to carry telephone calls, similar to how services such as Skype and Zoom work.

 

Why are telephone lines being upgraded?

The digital telephone switchover is happening due to increasing demand for faster networks and connectivity and will create a network fit for today’s demands. The upgrades will create opportunities for new and exciting services in the future.

 

Will I still be able to use my personal alarm?

Customers with a digital personal alarm

If you have one of the following digital personal alarms, you won't need to do anything because they do not use a telephone line:

Digital alarms

Customers with a personal alarm that connects to a telephone socket

If you have an Age Co Personal Alarm or Age Co Fall Alarm that connects to a telephone socket, it will rely on the current analogue telephone lines. BT customers should receive a BT Smart Hub, which they can plug their personal alarm into. If you are not a BT customer, your personal alarm may not work on the new digital system without an adapter called an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA).

Analogue alarms

    What is an Analogue Telephone Adapter?

    The switchover to digital telephone lines will not happen all at once. When a region has gone through the digital telephone switchover process, telephone providers will provide a digital hub that will be equipped with an adapter called an Analogue Telephone Adapter.

    The Analogue Telepehone Adapter is designed so that you can plug your existing telephone equipment (including your personal alarm unit) into the back of the digital hub and it can continue to be used as before.

    Most personal alarms that use a telephone landline will likely not work on the new digital system without one of these adapters because older analogue equipment is not compatible with the digital lines.

    Read on for further information about how you may be impacted if you want to keep an analogue alarm and the options available to you.

     

    How will the switchover affect my landline personal alarm?

    One impact of digital lines will be lack of power backup in an outage. Currently with the analogue network, if there is a power cut your telephone line is generally unaffected, and your landline personal alarm unit will have a battery backup so that you can make an emergency call if needed.

    With digital lines, all calls will go through a digital hub, which is connected to the mains power. If there is no power, no call will be able to go through.

    Even if your personal alarm has a battery backup, you will still not be able to contact the Emergency Response Centre as the alarm unit would be connected to the digital hub which would not be able to make or receive calls during a power outage.

     

    What are my options?

    1. Ask to be excluded from the upgrade

    Telephone landline customers who are considered vulnerable can ask BT to be excluded from the upgrade and can continue to use their existing equipment. However, this should not be considered a long-term solution as analogue telephone lines will no longer be maintained after 2025.

    2. Check you are eligible for a digital hub battery backup

    Some telephone providers will also offer vulnerable residents a battery backup for their digital hub that can be used in the event of a power cut.

    However, it will depend on your provider as to whether your backup battery pack will work with your personal alarm unit. Additionally, it will only provide power for approximately 1 hour.

    3. Change to a digital personal alarm

    The best and most reliable solution will be to change your personal alarm to a digital model. Taking Care have a range of devices that are digital ready and will work on the upgraded telephone lines:

    These devices operate using a multi-network SIM, similar to how a mobile phone works.

    If you would like to find out more about changing your personal alarm equipment, and to find out which digital device would best suit your lifestyle, please call Taking Care on 0800 085 8032*, Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm, who will be happy to answer any questions you have.


    Personal Alarm Advice and Support

    Call 0800 085 8032*


     

    Where can I find out more?

    • Your landline phone provider e.g. BT, Virgin, EE, Sky
    • Taking Care, provider of the Age Co Personal Alarm Service
    • Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator
    • Openreach, a subsidiary of BT that maintains the telephone network infrastructure

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