A business owner has slammed the BT switch to digital landline after concern for the elderly and over surging prices for consumers.  

BT announced in September it was phasing out the decades old, analogue copper landlines and replacing them with the new digital technology known as Digital Voice or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in bid to prepare its customers for Full Fibre broadband connection. 

The switch means all landline users will need to have a broadband connection in their home by December 2025.

The switch to the new digital landline will be carried out region by region, with Buckinghamshire and the South East making the move during spring next year, although some customers will be contacted to switch sooner. 

Bucks Free Press: BT landline customer John Healy from Chesham has already switched to the new technologyBT landline customer John Healy from Chesham has already switched to the new technology (Image: John Healy)

John Healy, who owns a book publishing business in Chesham, was left concerned for the elderly and vulnerable in the case of a power cut after he made the switch in early November.  

In the case of a power cut, the new digital landline will be out of use, and those depending on the landline are advised to have a battery backup or to use a mobile phone. 

“If there’s a power cut, proverbially you’re stuffed, you’ll be like a turkey at Christmas,” he said.

He said he was told the digital landline system will be “much better and efficient and all that.”

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However, he was worried customers were “going to have higher prices as a result.” His package with unlimited calls and a broadband package will set him back £37.99 each month plus a one-off £11 delivery fee in addition to another internet connection and mobile phone he has.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it. The elderly and vulnerable people especially, they are going to be left behind in all this ridiculous change,” he claimed.

But BT has said the there will be no impact on the way BT customers use their home phone and it will not cost them more.

BT, who owns Openreach, won’t be initially switching anyone with a healthcare dependant, customers who only use landlines, customers with no mobile signal or those who have told them about any additional needs. The company is currently trialling switching customers over the age of 70.

BT has established an advisory group, which is made up of charities and representative groups, including Age UK, to help older and disabled customers with the change, and customers with additional support needs or no mobile signal can get a free backup battery.

The company has pledged not to switch vulnerable customers until they have spoken to an advisor and booked an appointment.