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Home Using Tech in Older Age Digital Switchover Guide

Digital Switchover Guide

The Digital Switchover is taking place across the UK by 2025 to switch the analogue telephone network (all landline telephones) to a digital network (telephone via the internet). All network providers are involved and the switchover has started regionally. The landline provider will make contact beforehand, but you can contact BT directly to find out when they intend to start work in your area.  

Why does the digital switchover matter?

There are 3 types of personal alarms: one is the traditional in-home analogue service – those that connect by landline to a call centre or directly to a family member to summon help;  the second are digital in-home alarms that use the internet to connect. The third are mobile alarms that only only need to be plugged in every so often to charge and work with a SIM, much like a mobile phone. The second and third types – digital and mobile alarms – are not affected by the digital switchover because they do not rely on a landline for their connection.  

What you need to know about buying an analogue landline alarm before 2025

Despite a great deal of product testing by alarm providers they cannot currently 100% guarantee that simple and falls in-home analogue alarms, connected to landlines will work post switchover. They will require some effort to switchover whether it is a free converter or a new base unit / alarm package sent out by your provider. 

All alarm providers offer advice and support for existing and new customers, so make contact with them if you want more information or are concerned.

Why by an analogue alarm now?

  • If there is a landline but no Wi-Fi, internet access or SIM coverage currently in the home
  • Cost – analogue alarms are generally less expensive than digital (mobile) alarms;  as they will be phased out by 2025 they may be sold more cheaply than digital mobile alarms;  
  • Need – the alarm may only be required for a short period of time before the analogue system is switched off in 2025 

Considerations when choosing a mobile or digital alarm

1. Speed of connection

The digital network is quicker than the traditional landline analogue network. Emergency calls are more likely to get through to the response centres faster than landline ones. 

2. Range of Service

With the third type of alarm, mobile alarms, the alarm can be raised wherever you are, provided the device has SIM signal – so you don’t need to be at home. With analogue and digital in-home alarms you do need to be within a certain distance from the base unit plugged into the wall. This is usually between 75-100m.

3. Better Technology

Because digital will be in place for years to come there has been more investment in adding and improving digital alarms. For example many digital base units can be a hub for more than one type of monitoring technology in the home, not just the single SOS button pendant. However, often these added features may come with a cost consideration.

4. Peace of Mind

It is very unlikely that if you bought an analogue alarm that you would encounter any issues. Thousands of people across the UK have analogue devices in their homes and they will all be considered during this switchover period. However, the likelihood that you will have any issues, need to plug in the converter yourself, or suffer any outages is reduced by having a digital alarm.

If you are an existing customer considering an upgrade, please contact your current provider. New customers should consider the options available and also consult with providers to ensure you purchase the right alarm for you.