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Message 1 of 6

BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

Looks like BT are to start rolling our Digital Voice again according to this article Digital Voice Rollout 

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Message 2 of 6

Re: BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

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Message 3 of 6

Re: BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

Virgin Media are WAY ahead of BT on this!

I won't risk posting a non-BT link, but if you Google "Your Virgin Phone Guide" and click the first result that comes up (dated 27th August 2021), you can see that they openly offer emergency solutions for those who need them and even offer to come and install them. I quote:

An Emergency Backup Line means that you’ll always be able to dial 999 or 112 from your home phone, even if there’s a power cut. If you have accessibility needs or don’t have access to a mobile phone, you should tell us as soon as possible and we’ll fit an Emergency Backup Line in your home for free. It’s a little box that one of our engineers will come and install for you – it won’t change the way you normally use your home phone ... and, in the event of power or network outage, [will] provide continuous access to 999 or 112 but not to other non-emergency numbers. Connected devices (like security or personal alarms or health monitors) that use the phone line will not be supported by the Emergency Backup Line and won’t work during a power/network outage. You should check with your device supplier whether this is appropriate for your needs.

As well as the "box" device that only dials emergency numbers, they also offer a proper corded phone with an aerial that will dial any number, including speed dials, and has a battery that provides 8 hours of power (not the lousy 1 hour that BT's (very hard to get) battery back-up offers. It looks a bit like BT's Big Button 200 phone, so very user-friendly for the elderly and disabled. Presumably, BT's 'hybrid' phone idea will do the same thing, but I doubt they would install them for free.

And if you want to keep using your extensions? Not a problem, the nice Virgin engineer will gladly sort that for you! Quote from their website:

I have several phones connected to extensions – will these work?
Yes – when our technician pops around to install the new Hub (if you need one) they’ll make sure all your phones work too.

Compare this to BT's half-arsed, promising nothing, response:

Extension sockets aren't supported on our Digital Voice service. You can connect existing phones to the phone port on the back of the Hub.

If it's essential that you use your extension wiring, please contact us on 0800 800 150 to discuss this.

Now WHY can't BT be as accommodating as Virgin, who seem keen to make the transition as painless as possible? In fact, it seems that ALL Virgin customers who are being switched are allowed to book an engineer visit to help them, at no extra cost.

I also note from Virgin's phone guide that Reminder Call, a feature that doesn't work on BT Digital Voice, does work on Virgin Fibre Phone! Also, Call Waiting and 3-Way Calling work with the Recall button, which suggests that Virgin Fibre (unlike BT DV) supports loop-disconnect (pulse) dialling. They also give Anonymous Call Reject (not available on BT Digital Voice) as standard to their fibre customers, plus something called 'Quick Dial', whereby your favourite numbers are stored using touch-tone codes - handy with cordless phones, that don't tend to have true speed-dial functionality. This feature isn't available on BT Residential, although their Business package on PSTN does offer a similar thing called 'Code Calling'.

Virgin also has a dedicated 'IP Lab' facility in Wokingham, where alarm providers etc. can test their equipment:

Virgin Media is transforming the way it delivers voice calls.  We’re moving from the legacy technology associated with a traditional fixed network connection to an All-IP infrastructure in order to ensure that our services remain up to date and future proof.  Although this change will enable us to maintain modern, efficient and reliable voice services, we are aware that the change of technology may impact some services that are operating “over-the-top” of dial-up connections (e.g. telehealth devices, care alarms, security alarms, fire alarms, point of sale terminals, fax machines etc).  If you are involved in the provision of this equipment or services, or you simply use these services, that may connect over our phone network, and you want to know if your equipment will be compatible, you’ve come to the right place.

The change of technology means that some devices that connect to and signal over the phone line may not work as well as they do now. Virgin Media has established a dedicated test lab where you can bring in examples of these devices in order to test over our phone lines (both using old and new technologies) to assess compatibility.

We have opened our dedicated test lab so that anyone providing  or using these types of devices can arrange to come and test them.  We will also publish a list of companies who have tested, so they can be contacted for more details if you use their equipment.

Whichever way you look at it, BT seriously need to up their game! Or risk losing customers to Virgin.

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Message 4 of 6

Re: BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

Never let the truth get in the way of a good rant.

BT not only provide free Digital Voice handsets they also provide an ATA within the Smart hub 2 so that any phone can be used or connected to existing extension wiring. They also provide free portable ATAs that can be plugged into any mains socket to provide connectivity for analogue phones.

They also provide battery backup for vulnerable customers.

Message 5 of 6

Re: BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

The Consumer arm of BT has over 30 million residential customers and is the largest provider of consumer mobile and fixed broadband communications services in the UK.  The latest figure that I could see on Virgin Media's was from 2020, claiming a residential customer base of 16 million people in the UK.

Virgin Media cabled my street a few years back but the network stops short of my home on the other side of the road, a few metres away and Virgin says that it has no current plans to expand the network in my area.  For those reasons I cannot agree with your assertion contained in the final paragraph of your post.  Sorry.





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Message 6 of 6

Re: BT to start rolling out Digital Voice

@licquorice - Never let the truth get in the way of a BT fanatic who won't have a word said against them!

Where did I say that BT's Smart Hub 2 doesn't work with extension wiring? I merely pointed out that BT are reluctant to encourage this, let alone offer to do it for the customer for free, whereas Virgin make it all so easy for those wishing to maintain their existing set-up.

BT's battery back-up is, at present, very well-concealed (no mention of it on their Moving to Digital Voice page) and only gives 1 hour of power. I believe that will be extended to 8 hours, which is a good move, but will they offer to install it for customers for free like Virgin (or even as a chargeable service)? Time will tell. Again, Virgin are far more open and transparent about their back-up equipment in their literature. Having the back-up power built into the 'emergency dialling device', as Virgin does, makes perfect sense.

It's great that BT offer free handsets or an adaptor to those who need them, but not everyone can use a cordless phone due to problems with dexterity or remembering menu sequences. For those customers, keeping their analogue corded phones and extension wiring is the best option (and environmentally friendly, as no additional power or batteries required).

I didn't mention BT's analogue adaptor because the reviews are mixed, to say the least. Problems with ringing, Caller Display and sound quality have all been mentioned on here.

Virgin's 'IP Voice Lab' is a good idea and I would have expected BT to be leading the way there. It's not just personal devices such as care alarms that currently rely on PSTN that will be affected, but things like lifts and traffic lights. If these should fail because of network outages, the consequences could be dangerous.

Virgin appear to have gone to some lengths to ensure that calling features are not disrupted by the switch, dropping only Ring Back When Free and (apparently) continuing to support the Recall function, which is more than can be said for BT.

I still think that BT are the best provider for phone by a mile and would not advise anyone to leave them without serious consideration. I just hope they've been using the time since they paused the digital rollout wisely, looking at what Virgin have been doing for some time as an example of how they could do things better.

@RIC9380 - I don't disagree with you. No provider can match BT for coverage.

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