The National Rural Conference 2023 Conference Sponsor - BT

The landline as we know it isn’t going away, but it is changing. The industry-wide rollout of digital home phones forms part of a national upgrade to the communications network that connects our homes and businesses. This will see power-hungry end-of-service analogue technology, originally rolled-out in the 20th century, replaced with future-proof, digital technology and full fibre networks capable of supporting the connectivity needs of UK consumers and the broader economy for the next century.

As part of this, BT is taking steps designed to help deliver a necessary upgrade to the technology that supports its customers’ phones in their homes. This will bring a service fit for the future that runs over broadband and with the ability to prevent the vast majority of scam calls.

We’ve trialled our approach in Salisbury, Mildenhall and with a wider group of customers across the country with full fibre and superfast broadband.

Taking a regional approach

From the summer, customers will be encouraged to make the switch to Digital Voice on a region-by-region basis. The first three regions will be the East MidlandsYorkshire & Humberside, and Northern Ireland. In addition, customers who are ready and keen to make the switch to Digital Voice, can also contact us at any time, as many have continued to do.

Customers in these regions will be contacted at least four weeks before being upgraded, to help ensure they’re ready to make the switch. For the vast majority of customers, the move to Digital Voice simply involves connecting a landline phone to a BT broadband router. More than 99% of phone handsets are compatible with our Digital Home Phone service and for those that aren't, we have a range of handsets that customers can add to their order.

The regional approach will be supported by general awareness communications, and advertising campaigns, delivered across local and regional media to explain to customers the simple steps required to make the move to Digital Voice. BT will also be present on high streets across the country and at local town hall drop-ins to directly address customer questions on the ground.

We won’t be proactively switching customers who fall under any of the below criteria, where we have this information available:

  • Customers with a healthcare pendant
  • Customers who are over 70
  • Customers who only use landlines
  • Customers with no mobile signal
  • Customers who have disclosed any additional needs

These customers will be delayed from switching as work continues with stakeholder groups to build confidence in the new solutions we have, help to shape the solutions we’re developing and help them to better understand the support available to make the move.

Supporting our customers every step of the way with AbilityNet

In April, BT group announced a partnership with AbilityNet to help improve digital skills among older people. AbilityNet will be supporting us with the region-by-region rollout, ensuring customers understand why the changes are happening and how they can make the most of this new technology.

In addition, we’ve continued to work closely with our Digital Voice Advisory Group – an association made up of charities and representative groups – who have been advising on the needs of customers most affected by the switch. Following feedback from its members*, as well as customers in our pilot scheme areas, we’ve listened and are taking a number of steps to help ensure we’re giving customers the best possible experience.

We’re committed to providing customers with a great experience, supporting them every step of the way - which is why we will visit every single region in the UK, to meet the people in those areas, and ensure we’re doing everything we can to answer questions, and help provide information for a smooth and successful upgrade to switch to our digital home phone service.

To find out more about our digital home phone service, Digital Voice, please visit:

[*Members of the Digital Voice Advisory Group include Age UK, Department of Health and Social Care, Independent Age, Rural Services Network, Silver Voices and Which? amongst others. This group of stakeholders have been incredibly important in helping to shape our plans for how we approach the move to digital home phones.]


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