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BT to Deploy UK Digital Voice Across Greater London in November

Tuesday, Oct 31st, 2023 (7:51 am) - Score 5,200

Broadband ISP BT has today announced that they’ll start deploying their Internet Protocol (IP) based home phone service, Digital Voice, across the Greater London area between November and December 2023. This follows previous roll-outs in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland and the North West.

The Digital Voice product is intended to replace BT’s old analogue phone service, which will cease to function once the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is completely withdrawn by December 2025. After that point, all future phone services – whether delivered over copper (ADSL, FTTC, G.fast) or full fibre (FTTP) lines – will become IP based and require broadband to function. This means users will generally plug their phone handset into the broadband router or an ATA [analogue] adapter instead of a wall socket (more details).

NOTE: The move to IP / VoIP based phone services is NOT limited to BT and is an industry-wide change that affects all providers of fixed line phone services.

However, Digital Voice does have a number of caveats – particularly for more vulnerable users, which is why BT has been taking a more gradual (phased) approach to its deployment. For example, without battery backup, the service won’t work during power outages and some kit, such as older fixed-line based home alarms and remote medical monitoring systems, may cease to function unless upgraded.

BT’s own digital voice product is also proprietary, which means that you have to use the provider’s own router(s), which limits some customer flexibility. But the provider has introduced a variety of enhancements and changes to help tackle some of these concerns, although there are limits to what they can do.

BT’s Other Digital Voice Related Improvements

➤ The ability for customers to nominate a family member, friend or carer who will receive all the information about switching on their behalf.

➤ When vulnerable customers start to make the switch, they’ll automatically receive equipment and an engineer appointment. Their switch won’t go ahead until they have spoken to an advisor and booked an appointment.

➤ BT / EE are also continuing to invest in the Shared Rural Network, improving 4G mobile coverage in more than 900 areas across the UK by the end of 2023.

➤ BT are continuing to work with healthcare pendant and burglar alarm providers to ensure the most vulnerable customers continue to get the service they need.

For peace of mind in the event of a temporary power cut, BT will provide additional resilience to those who need it most, including:

➤ Free battery back-up units for Digital Voice customers with additional needs, who identify as vulnerable and/or live in an area without mobile signal. Customers without additional needs can also optionally choose to purchase a battery back-up unit.

➤ A hybrid phone that can switch to a mobile network and has an in-built battery, for Digital Voice customers without a mobile phone.

As before, customers in the Greater London area can expect to be contacted at least 4 weeks before being upgraded, to ensure they’re ready for the switch. The regional approach is also being supported by general awareness communications and advertising campaigns, delivered across local and regional media to help explain the change (they’ll also be present on some high streets and at local town hall drop-in sessions).

Initially, BT still aren’t proactively switching anyone who falls under the below criteria, where it has this information available. Customers who fall into any of these categories should contact BT to ensure their data is up-to-date, otherwise they may not get the right support.

➤ Customers with a healthcare pendant

➤ Customers who only use landlines

➤ Customers with no mobile signal

➤ Customers who have disclosed any additional needs.

The provider states that customers over the age of 70 are “not being proactively switched to Digital Voice“. However, since July 2023, BT has been trialling switching customers between 70-74 who live in urban areas and are ready to make the switch (i.e. they have the latest broadband router and are not frequent landline users). BT states that these trials have gone well, with 98% of customers choosing to make the switch, albeit against some opposition (here).

Vicky Hicks, Senior Engagement Manager at BT, said:

“BT customers in Greater London will benefit from a tried and tested service, with around two million BT customers already having made the switch and benefitting from the many advantages of digital home phones from advanced scam call filtering capabilities to crystal-clear call audio.

For almost everyone, moving to Digital Voice will be a simple and free transition with no home installation work required. If you feel you need additional support with the transition or you think you are vulnerable, please do tell us. We will be with you every step of the way.”

Under the current rollout plan, BT’s Digital Voice service will next be deployed across the West Midlands, South East, Wales and East Anglia during spring 2024. The final phase will then take place during the summer of 2024, which will see the service being extended to the North East, Scotland and the South West.

BT’s Upcoming Engagement Activities in London

Townhalls: BT will be present in townhalls across the region in November and early December to address customer questions on the ground. Customers will be able to speak to BT advisors, test Digital Voice products as well as take part in digital skills training. The first townhalls to be confirmed are as follows:

  • 7th November – Hornchurch Library, 44 North Street, Hornchurch, RM11 1TB
  • 14th November – Hatch End Suites (in car park) Harrow Arts Centre, 171 Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, HA5 4EA
  • 5th December – St. Mildreds Church, 30 Bingham Road, Croydon, CR0 7EB
  • 11th December – Dugdale Arts Centre (Thomas Hardy House), 39 London Road, Enfield EN2 6DS

Pop-up Events: BT will tour every borough over the course of November and early December to ensure customers across Greater London and surrounding areas can speak to BT staff about the switch and try out the new technology for themselves. Confirmed dates and locations: 

  • 7th-8th November – Bexley – Broadway Shopping Centre, Broadway, Bexleyheath, DA6 7JN
  • 7th-8th November – Hoddesden – Stanboroughs Conservative Club, Conduit Lane, Hoddesdon, EN11 8EP
  • 9th-10th November – Sutton – Dobbies Garden Centre, Woodcote Green, 4a Woodmansterne Lane, Wallington, SM6 0SU
  • 9th-10th November – Welwyn Garden City – Morrisons, 40 Black Fan Road, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 1RY
  • 11th November – Greenwich – Greenwich Central Library, 12 Lambarde Square, London, SE10 9HB
  • 11th-12th November – St Albans – The Maltings Library, The Maltings, St Albans, AL1 3JQ
  • 13th-14th November – Lewisham – Carenden Rise Car Park, London, SE13 6BJ
  • 13th-14th November – Watford – Morrisons, Ascot Road, Watford, WD18 8AA
  • 15th-16th November – Southwark – East Street Market, East Street, London, SE17 1EL
  • 15th-16th November – Hounslow – Osterley Garden Centre, Windmill Lane, Osterley, Isleworth, TW7 5PR
  • 17th November – Hillingdon – Ickenham Library, long Lane, Ickenham, Uxbridge, UB10 8RD
  • 17th-18th November – Lambeth – Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1QP
  • 19th-20th November – Harrow – Harrow Garden Centre, Headstone Lane, Harrow, HA2 6NB
  • 21st-22nd November – Bromley – 162 High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HE
  • 21st-22nd November – Brent – Brichen Grove Garden Centre, Birchen Grove, London, NW9 8RY
  • 23rd-24th November – Reigate – Woodhatch Community Centre, Whitebeam Drive, Reigate, RH2 7LS
  • 23rd-24th November – Barnet – The Spires, 111 High Street, Barnet, EN5 5XY
  • 25th-26th November – Epsom – Tadworth Community Centre, Preston Manor Road, Epsom, Tadworth, KT20 5FB
  • 25th-26th November – Camden – Camden Town Centre, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE
  • 27th-28th November – Weybridge – Weybridge Garden Centre, New Haw Road, Weybridge, Addlestone, KT15 2BU
  • 27th-28th November – Islington – Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD
  • 29th-30th November – Merton – South Mitcham Community Association, Cobham Court, Haslemere Avenue, Mitcham, CR4 3PR
  • 1st-2nd December – Enfield – British Garden Centres Enfield, Cattlegate Road, Crews Hill, Enfield Middlesex, EN2 9DX
  • 3rd-4th December – Wandsworth – Battersea library, 265 Lavender hill, London, SW11 1JB
  • 5th-6th December – City of Westminster – Church Street Library, 67 Church Street, London, NW8 8EU
  • 7th-8th December – Kensington & Chelsea – Brompton Library, 210 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0BS
  • 11th-12th December – Richmond Upon Thames – Hillier Garden Centre, Syon Park, Park Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF
  • 11th-12th December – Redbridge – The Exchange Shopping Centre, High Street, Ilford, IG1 1RS
  • 13th-14th December – Ealing – Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, London, W5 2BY
  • 15th-16th December – Twickenham – Richmond Rugby Club, Twickenham Road, Richmond, TW9 2SF
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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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22 Responses
  1. Avatar photo DL says:

    Stupid question: I haven’t really had a landline for a while. Isn’t it common for people to have (mainly for historic reasons) the POTS service via BT but their ISP via another company. What happens in that case?

    1. Avatar photo DL says:

      Ah. Andrew suggests that they may send an ATA.
      I would have thought that this changeover may cause BT to lose a lot of phone subscribers.


    2. Avatar photo Martin says:

      BT may end up gaining broadband customers, I suspect it you ring up to ask about it they would say it’s the simplest approach, and there happens to be a special offer……

    3. Avatar photo Mick says:

      You can’t get BT Digital Voice if you have a different ISP for Broadband. It is up to that Broadband ISP to offer you a landline voice product if they wish to, or if they don’t offer one, you will have to choose to cease the landline or move to an ISP that offers that service.

    4. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      Dont confuse the Openreach side of things with BT’s retail divisions.

      Chances are in most cases the ISP is responsible for the telephone, even if its using the POTS line as of now. Some ISPs do offer VOIP solutions such as Sky where like with BT their router contains an ATA, whilst other have dropped telephony entirely.

      One potential hassle though if you do want to port the number elsewhere, is that the telephone number is from my experience tied to the broadband service, when I ported my landline to a dedicated VOIP provider, it caused my broadband to be disconnected, even though I was using BT Digital.

    5. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Combined broadband & phone packages have been the norm for at least the last 15 years or so. When I first had ADSL I used to get separate bills for phone and broadband but that was 20 years ago.

    6. Avatar photo Martin says:

      Agree with many if the comments here, having phone with one provider and broadband with another is fairly uncommon.

      The only case which springs to mind just now is Andrews and Arnold, who haven’t offered phone calls (ex voip) for quite some time.

      For most ISPs having your line rental elsewhere has no advantages, and im sure many haven’t allowed the for new customers for a long time

  2. Avatar photo Knight John says:

    What is happening to Plusnet customers. I have broadband & phone service with them & have had no communication from them.

    1. Avatar photo Peter says:

      We had Plusnet broadband and phone service. As I understand it Plusnet do not currently offer a VOIP service. However, there is a problem if you want to keep your current telephone number and port it to another provider (we went for A&A) as a VOIP service. Porting the number automatically cancels the broadband service, which renders VOIP impossible. We had to order a second (SOGEA) broadband service from Plusnet and then port the number to A&A. Requesting the existing broadband is changed to SOGEA will cancel the phone number and you cannot port a cancelled phone number to VOIP as the number will potentially be reallocated. We were fortunate that we had a second pair spare in our drop cable and Openreach could find a spare pair back to a new port on the DSLAM in our local cabinet. We now have our old phone number running as VOIP via a CISCO ATA (other makes are available) of our new Plusnet SOGEA broadband service. The original broadband automatically ceased when the number was ported. However, this is a lot of faff to get the transfer to VOIP and many people will understandably not want to go to the effort involved.

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      I suspect Plusnet customers who require a voip service will be moved to EE. BT seems to be making plusnet a no frills internet only service.

    3. Avatar photo SomersetBob says:

      We moved to an alt net because of the fiasco with Plusnet not offering VOIP. Though we’re not big users of the landline some of our elderly relatives won’t answer if we ring them on our mobiles.

    4. Avatar photo binary says:

      I concur with what ‘Big Dave’ said above…

      Plusnet is not going to offer a ‘digital voice’ service – so the basic choice for current Plusnet broadband & phone punters will be to either upgrade to FTTP with Plusnet and lose the voice (landline) service, or choose a different FTTP provider that also offers a native ‘digital voice’ service such as BT/EE, Zen or Vodafone and upgrade with them, migrating your phone number across at the same time.

      If asked, Plusnet customer services will naturally direct you in the direction of BT/EE.

      An alternative, albeit one with downtime for the phone number, is to wait until the telephone service has been ceased (e.g. after an upgrade to FTTP) and then put in a porting request with a competent VoIP provider such as A&A within the 30 day ‘right to port’ time window, and then set up a VoIP service which is independent of your ISP.

  3. Avatar photo Obi says:

    Bit of a heads up, for those with ADSL, BT will allow you to renew with a landline. I did this the other week. No requirements, they just straight up offered.

    1. Avatar photo Mick says:

      Yes, BT does not offer Digital Voice over ADSL. So if you can’t get FTTC or FTTP, you won’t be moved to Digital Voice yet.

  4. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    If you live in London and are excited about changing to Digital Voice, you’ll find it won’t be happening any time soon for most, unless you ring up to take out a new contract. I’m in an area that has gone through the Regional Rollout process months ago, and have yet to hear from anyone with a landline who have been informed they are about to be switched over, including myself. Apparently 8 million BT customers have still to get Digital Voice, even if 4 million have the Smart Hub 2, where are BT going to get another 4 million in a quick hurry. Sky and Vodafone customers seem to be further forward with this change than BT. I’m afraid it looks like a public awareness campaign and very little else. Would not be surprised to see a delay to Digital Voice beyond December 2025.

    1. Avatar photo Mark Smith says:

      I suspect there will be a heck of a lot of people who will just be doing away with their landlines over the next couple of years as a result of this switch off.
      Most people who have a landline these days only have it as a legacy due to needing it to take a broadband service.
      But given the chance they’ll just opt to get rid of it.

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      One of my mates has just dumped his landline and gone over to SOGEA with BT (Openreach haven’t done fttp to his area yet). I know other people who have had a landline purely to get broadband and not had a phone plugged in for years.

  5. Avatar photo Tim C says:

    Land lines are of limited value, but they are still used to authenticate some people. I wonder if/how security rules are being adapted as the numbers move to VoIP, and have new spoofing enabled.

    I’m surprised that where the numbers are retained, they’re not just migrated to mobiles. It seems much cheaper than forking out for new dedicated phone hardware. It’s a bit fiddly, but that’s more of a market opportunity than a barrier to buying.

  6. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    Plaguerising Mr Cummins . . . . I find that dealing with all these utilities, even for the simplest thing is “Exhausting”, and that most are “Useless f***pigs” . . whatever that means.

    So, like HM Government, we should expect that the advance publicity trumpeting the virtues and successes of Digital Voice will be well over-played and the actual delivery somewhat short of that.

    Next two months should be interesting for me, being a BT customer, an undischarged NHS patient and previously categorised as Extremely Clinically Vulnerable for COVID – is that what they call a “Triple Whammy ?”

  7. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    I’ve got pre-existing DECT Tx/Rx modules (No keyboard or user input possible). They just act as relays for the upstairs phones. As they are of the order of 10 years old, and still going strong, I’m wondering whether I will be able to register them with the Smart-Hub 2 when Digital Voice is switched-on ?
    Is there any way to test this capability of these devices prior to Digital Voice switch-over ?

    1. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      IIRC when I tried connecting some DECT phones to the SH2 it didn’t work, anyone correct me if I’m wrong.

      There three options I know of:
      1) BT wireless phones which pair with the router
      2) The ATA built into the router
      3) The ‘Digital Voice Adapter’, basically a wireless ATA which pairs with the router

      I managed to the adapter for free when I was changed to BT Digital mid contract.

  8. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    End of March 2024…. Still nothing heard from BT…

Comments are closed

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