A new “digital” telephone will be favored instead of a landline , which will force all homes to be connected when the switchover takes place in 2025.
The phone will be powered by electricity and will require an internet connection to make calls.
However, millions of people fear age people who depend on traditional landlines to communicate will be isolated.
Retiree groups have criticized BT’s decision to force all homes online, ChroniqueLive reports.
Jan Shortt, secretary general of the National Pensioners’ Convention, said: “If there is a power cut, that digital phone line will no longer work – and a potential lifeline for the elderly will suddenly be lost.
“Those who need to make an emergency call or trigger an alarm via a health pendant could find themselves stranded – and unable to call anyone for life-saving assistance. “
About 6% of households – around 1.5 million households – do not have access to the Internet, according to the watchdog Ofcom.
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These homeowners may need an engineer to visit their home to set them up, and those with older phones might need to purchase a new handset.
But experts fear that millions more do not have cell phones or know how to use them properly.
“BT has no idea that many older people don’t want or can’t afford a fancy smartphone – and rely on their landline as a lifeline. It is wrong to discriminate against those – mainly the elderly – who are not connected to the Internet, ”added Shortt.
BT’s switchover, dubbed “Digital Voice”, began two years ago and has so far converted two million landlines.
But with a deadline of the end of 2025 to change 29 million landlines, it is feared that the flaws of the new system are increasingly exposed.
In accordance with guidelines established by Ofcom, BT must ensure that customers can contact emergency services in the event of a power outage lasting more than an hour.
But how to achieve this if you lose access to an Internet phone line or if you don’t have a cell phone – or signal – is unclear.
In addition, the Age UK charity is concerned that the change may attract criminals claiming to be involved in the change.
Caroline Abrahams said: “We are concerned that the changes will make many older people feel more isolated than they already do. Steps must also be taken to ensure that vulnerable people do not fall victim to digital voice scams. “
Telecommunications providers are obligated to ensure that all households have access to emergency services – although they can do so by providing a mobile phone for free.
Openreach, which operates more of the UK’s wire and cable infrastructure, insists protecting its most vulnerable customers is “a top priority”.