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Voice over Internet Protocol

Question for Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

UIN HL7585, tabled on 2 May 2023

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Viscount Camrose on 5 April (HL6987, HL6988, HL6989 and HL6990), whether local authorities are represented on the Digital Phone Advisory Group.

Answered on

17 May 2023

In April, BT announced the expansion of its trials of Digital Voice with a small group of customers, extending beyond its pilot schemes in Salisbury in the South West, and Mildenhall in Suffolk. This expansion group will be made up of lower usage landline customers who already have a full fibre broadband connection. These customers will be contacted four weeks in advance to help ensure they’re ready to migrate to Digital Voice. This will be followed by further communication ahead of their switchover date. These will be sent out via letter, postcards and text messages and will include all of the information they need to make the switch, including how to set up their phone on the day of the switch. For most customers, the switch will consist of simply connecting a handset to a router rather than the phone socket on the wall.

BT has engaged with a broad range of external stakeholders as part of its Digital Voice migration programme. The Digital Voice Advisory Group (DVAG) has advised BT on how best to support and engage with customers who will require additional support to migrate to Digital Voice. Members of the DVAG include representative groups and charities such as Age UK, Department of Health and Social Care, Independent Age, Rural Services Network, Silver Voices and Which?. BT have also invited other organisations to attend meetings on an ad hoc basis.

BT has engaged with local authorities in a number of areas related to Digital Voice, although no local authorities are formal members of DVAG. BT is working with local authorities via industry working groups to discuss issues such as telecare and frequently speaks to the Local Government Association about Digital Voice.

In the pilot areas of Salisbury and Mildenhall, Communication Providers have cultivated working relationships with Wiltshire and Suffolk Councils to support the migration and related engagement activity. Communication Providers will replicate this approach when the time comes to migrate customers on a regional basis, working closely with other local authorities across the country to ensure the regional migration is as effective as possible.