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BT to restart deployment of new ‘dangerous’ phone lines

BT sends text messages to customers as part of the launch of a controversial phone system that potentially puts millions of vulnerable people at risk if it crashes

BT has been texting customers as part of the launch of a controversial phone system that potentially puts millions of vulnerable people at risk if it crashes.

Following an investigation late last year by The Mail on Sunday that identified serious flaws in the technology, the telecoms giant was forced to make an embarrassing U-turn.

Shelved plans to connect all 29 million UK homes to so-called “digital voice” phone lines. Our investigation was praised by telecoms regulator Ofcom for highlighting how ‘999’ emergency services cannot be contacted using the digital voice system if there is a power failure, as phones only work on mains power.

Bad sign: Earlier this month, BT sent a text message to customers about the digital voice program that read:

Bad sign: Earlier this month, BT sent a text message to customers about the digital voice program that said, “We want to make sure you’re ready to move in.”

An estimated 1.5 million households without internet are also left behind, as phones must also be connected to broadband outlets to work.

BT wants to replace old copper phone lines with internet cables, forcing all calls to be made using ‘voice over internet protocol’ (VoIP) instead of analogue signals.

Earlier this month, BT texted customers about the digital voice program saying: “We want to make sure you’re ready to move in.”

Customers were told to reply ‘DONE’ to confirm the change, or visit the ‘We’re upgrading you to digital voice’ website. No move-in dates provided.

BT is offering a free phone to pre-switch households to accommodate the new system, as many older phones will become redundant.

BT says bills won’t go up as a result. Dennis Reed of the senior campaign group Silver Voices asks: ‘What if you want to call an ambulance and the phone line goes down? This technology is dangerous and could cost lives.’

BT said it had “paused forced customer migrations” but admitted “a few exceptions”, adding: “We were wrong to go too early.” Our goal is to restart the program once we are more confident that the correct products and solutions have been implemented.”

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