Digital Shift

The TSA’s campaign to raise awareness of the IP switch to digital phone networks by 2025, and how it affects you.

What is the digital switchover?

In 2017 BT announced plans to turn off their analogue telephone network and switch over to a faster digital system. Work has already started and BT plans to switch the old network off permanently in 2025. This change will affect everyone who uses a landline telephone and therefore will affect our customers as our Careline alarms connect via the telephone line.

Why switch to digital?

Existing landline telephones are based on ageing systems called the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and rely on copper wires to transfer voice signals. When the internet came along it put extra strain on the system with people requiring faster speeds for the transfer of data. Also we are now using landline telephones less and less to make calls, favouring mobile phone devices. The digital network known as the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) has more or less replaced PSTN which is becoming more difficult and costly to repair. However, even this system is struggling to keep up with consumer demand and BT intends to retire both systems by 2025.

How will the new system work?

The new system uses Voice over Internet Protocol technology or VoIP. It allows us to make telephone calls via the internet, which is much cheaper (especially if calling internationally) and the connections are much quicker as it isn’t carried by physical wires. The data is transferred digitally via the internet which means when you press your pendant, your call will be received much more quickly saving valuable seconds of time.

What will this mean for our customers?

From 2025 landline telephones will no longer plug in to a socket on the wall, they will plug into your wifi router and will work via an internet connection.

You will be contacted by your phone and internet provider when the switchover is due to take place in your area. Your phone provider will supply you with a Home Hub, complete with an Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA). This is designed so that you can plug your Careline Alarm into the hub and the ATA will convert analogue signals to digital, allowing you to use your equipment in exactly the same way as before. However, you will no longer hear a dialling tone as the call will be placed digitally.

All calls will go through the Home Hub which is connected to the mains power, so in the event of a power cut, the home hub and therefore your Careline Alarm will not function. Even if your alarm unit has a battery back up this will not work as the Home Hub will not function without power and will not be able to send data through including your emergency call.

This is a major concern for the telecare sector and at the present time BT and Virgin have promised to provide all ‘vulnerable’ residents with a battery back up lasting one hour, albeit with varying functionality.

The ATA is only a temporary measure and it is likely that we may need to upgrade your equipment at a later date. Telecare equipment manufacturers are developing new IP enabled alarms, but at present these are much more expensive and may force telecare providers to increase their prices. Rest assured we will contact you to explain this and to discuss your options when the time comes.

What do I need to do?

Do not worry, you do not need to do a thing at this moment in time. If you wish to find out more about when the switchover will be happening in your local area then please contact your provider.

Rest assured your alarm will continue to work throughout the digital switchover.

© Careline Community Service | Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk