Everything you need to know about BT's Digital Voice

* Originally published May 2023. Last updated April 2024. *

A older person sat on a sofa with a phone to their ear.In 2023, BT announced the switch to its new digital home phone service, Digital Voice.

The upgrade to Digital Voice means calls will be made over the broadband network rather than the 40-year-old analogue network.

AbilityNet, as a charity that supports older and disabled people, will be helping with the region-by-region Digital Voice rollout.

The rollout of Digital Voice 

Between now and 2025 most telephone providers will be moving their customers from older analogue landlines over to new upgraded landline services using digital technology - this is collectively known as 'the digital switchover'.

Lucy Baker, All-IP Director at BT Consumer explained more about BT's digital switchover to Digital Voice on a blog on the BT website.

You can also learn about the changes on this captioned video from BT Group:

Following successful pilot trials in areas of Wiltshire, Suffolk, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, and Northern Ireland, and now having around two million customers across the country using Digital Voice, BT announced the next phase in the rollout of its new home phone service.

Poster showing digital items on a table alongside a cup of coffee. With text sharing: UK landlines are going digital by December 2025. Find out how BT is supporting customers with the switch to its new home phone service, Digital Voice: bt.com/digital-voiceThe remaining regions and nations set to make the switch are: 

Spring 2024 

  • West Midlands 
  • South East 
  • Wales 
  • East Anglia 

Summer 2024 

  • North East 
  • Scotland 
  • South West 

Visit the BT Group website to learn about Digital Voice information events near you

On 18 December 2023, BT Group, along with the wider telecoms industry, announced it will pause migration for customers who are unsure or who have informed the Group that they have a telecare device which isn’t compatible with a digital landline - their systems will not be switched until those customers are ready.

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Lucy Baker announced on the BT Group website:

"Over the past week, we've been informed about incidents involving telecare users from another communications provider who had been switched to a digital landline. In light of this news, the telecoms industry, including BT, has agreed that the right thing to do is to temporarily pause all non-voluntary, managed migrations to a digital landline where there is any risk that a customer's telecare service will not continue to work."

Voluntary migration

Throughout the programme, BT will also be contacting some broadband customers in England, inviting them to switch their landline to Digital Voice in advance of local and regional campaigning in their area. 

In addition, any BT customers who want to make the switch to Digital Voice can also contact BT at any time.

BT will not be proactively switching customers who fall under any of the below criteria:

  • Customers with a healthcare pendant
  • Customers who are over 70
  • Customers who only use landlines
  • Customers with no mobile signal
  • Customers who have disclosed any additional needs

BT will delay switching these customers while it engages with stakeholder groups to share more about its new solutions, shape the ones it's building, and better understand the support available to help customers.

What to expect when upgrading to Digital Voice

For most BT customers, the upgrade to Digital Voice is simply having a landline phone connected to a BT broadband router. More than 99% of phone handsets are compatible with BT’s Digital Home Phone service. 

BT customers will also be supported by awareness campaigns delivered across local and regional media that will explain the simple steps required to make the move to Digital Voice. Plus, BT will also be present in local high streets or town halls to answer customer queries directly.

Frequently asked question: What if there’s a power cut?

BT highlights in its Digital Voice information:

"We understand that for many, particularly those with additional needs, the landline is a lifeline. We want to be sure everyone remains connected. We've been working to make battery back-up units available to those that need them. Customers with additional needs such as health pendants or without mobile signal, can take advantage of free additional support, on request. We’re also working closely with the power companies to establish processes which help them to restore power as quickly as possible."

Supporting older people with their digital skills

In April 2023, AbilityNet announced its partnership with BT Group to help improve digital skills among older people, as research by BT Group and OnePoll has shown a need for boosting digital skills in the older age group.

As part of the Digital Voice region-by-region rollout, our team will also be ensuring customers understand the changes and how they can make the most of Digital Voice.

Sarah Brain, Free Services Manager at AbilityNet, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with BT to support older people with their digital skills. In a world where digital is so essential to daily life it’s crucial no one is left behind, and with this partnership we can help bridge the digital skills gap."

"Plus, as the digital switchover rolls out throughout the UK our team can use their knowledge and networks with older and disabled people and organisations to support people make this change as smoothly as possible.”

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