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Digital switchover could put 900,000 telecare users at risk, warns report

Telecare

Around 900,000 telecare users in the UK are at risk of not getting the emergency assistance they need when BT stops installing landlines after 2020, a new white paper has warned.

The report from Doro, a supplier of digital social care solutions, urges services providers to start installing digital units now, or else face a wave of failed calls for help.

“If service providers wait and don’t start installing digital units now, they simply won’t have the resource to complete the installs before 2025,” warns Wendy Darling, Country Director of Doro Care UK.

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Telephone providers including BT and Virgin Media have advised that they will shut down analogue completely in 2025.

Doro has warned that there is a misconception among many local authorities that analogue units will still work on digital telephone networks.

However, a report from Apello, the UK’s largest Technology Enabled Care Services monitoring centre, are already reporting failures of around 11.5%.

“The closer we get to the 2025 digital switchover date the higher number of failed calls we’ll see. Swedish municipalities went through the same transition ten years ago and, tragically, they reported some fatal errors,” said Darling.

Swedish telecom provider Telia upgraded its core network to a next-generation network (NGN) in 2007. Shortly after, a 76-year-old man died when his analogue social alarm failed to connect to the digital network via his analogue phone line.

That year, it was estimated that 20% of alarm connections via an NGN failed.

However, there have been questions about the reliability of UK networks too. During some early trials of digital systems, some of the chosen mobile networks were found to have limited connectivity in certain areas.

“The answer is to take the burden of sourcing SIM cards away from local authorities and give it to the service provider. Roaming SIMs, specifically designed for machine-to-machine application, are supplied with all Doro Care digital systems. This means that connectivity issues are rare. However, in the event that there was a problem, support is provided immediately,” said Darling.

Tags : BTdigital switchoverDorotechnologytelecareVirgin Media
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

1 Comment

  1. This is scandalous scaremongering, Doro are aware that their rivals have tested their existing equipment over the new BT and Virgin lines at the telephone providers own test sites with successful results. The failed call figure quoted by Appello has not been replicated elsewhere, especially not by any centre using the commonly used monitoring platforms from Jontek, Tunstall and Verklizan (which Appello don’t use). Councils should not bury their head in the sand when confronted with technological advances, but they should ensure they talk to all equipment suppliers to ensure that they get a balanced view on the changes from the whole of industry. Throwing out those 900,000 telecare sytems and replacing them with the digital versions will land Councils with an enormous bill (app. £135,000,000)and also on-going revenue costs that they don’t currently have to pay.
    Germany and Switzerland transferred their phone networks to NGN or digital a few years ago and current figures indicate all but 3% of alarms are analogue. Neither country has a problem with failed calls.

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