11 Mar 2024

Event Roundup - The Digital Landline Switchover and Local Authorities

Catch up with the recording and summary of the Digital Landline Switchover and Local Authorities event on Tuesday 5 March, 2024.

The Digital Landline Switchover and Local Authorities event hosted by techUK on March 5th saw key stakeholders come together to share thoughts, experience and advice on the change that will see landline voice services move from the analog to digital connections. 

Watch the recording or catch up with the summary below, and download the Digital Landline Switchover leaflet for local authorities here:

Digital Landline Switchover Local Authorities Leaflet.pdf


Rob Orr, Chief Operating Officer for Virgin Media O2 set out the rationale for the switchover program with the analog network (PSTN) reaching end of life and VMO2 already halfway through the network upgrade. He issued a plea for local authorities to work with Communications Providers on identifying telecare customers and called for the Government to support a Charter with the telecare industry following the one that Communications Providers signed up to in December 2023.

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Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London, highlighted the huge cost to be borne by local authorities  as a huge blocker to the move and called on Government to ensure that it was delivered properly and show leadership. Rebecca Molyneux, DSIT, stated that DSIT was working as a convener of stakeholders and covered the two charters for the telecoms industry – with one about to be concluded with the network providers. Cristina Luna-Esteban concluded the first panel with a focus on the role of Ofcom – to monitor plans, set guidance and expectations and engage with stakeholders and advise.

Moderating the discussion was Steve Smith, Farrpoint, who revealed that recent research carried out by them showed that about 2% of local authorities had no plan for the switchover and about 1/3 had no budget at all set aside. The conversation focused on the need for a national campaign to raise awareness and the challenges posed by the change in resilience and communications.

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The second panel discussion focused on telecare, moderated by Mark Williams of the LGA (LGA Guidance on the Landline Switchover available here). BT Consumer’s Lucy Baker talked through the establishment of the Telecare Action Board and ongoing work to resolve some of the challenges. The TSA recognized that at the end of 2025 there will still be analog kit and that the TSA report showing testing results would be published shortly. Colin McFadyen from the Scottish Digital Office shared that the program has been running a little longer in Scotland with 40% fully migrated but 60% remain in a noman’s land where analog equipment isn’t guaranteed to work on digital lines. The digital potential is huge and the bread and butter of the program.

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The final panel chaired by Gareth Johns of 4C Strategies brought together examples of good practice and learnings from John Steward of the GMCA, Openreach’s John Livermore and Andrew Parsons from Southwark Council. GMCA have been working with local authorities across Greater Manchester over the last year and a half and he highlighted the importance of appointing a lead and expressed some frustration that local authorities were in a position of having to share pain rather than focus on the innovation potential of the switchover which should be an opportunity for efficiency and integration of services. Southwark Council underscored the importance of getting budgetary approval and as a first step of calculating the cost advised organisations to go through their bills to find out what is being paid for. Andrew also stressed that the market is competitive – with all competing for the same things and added to the voices calling for a centralized campaign of awareness raising. John Livermore stressed that auditing is key alongside being careful where money is spent. He pointed out that this program started out in 2017 with people then saying that 2025 was too far away to think about. And now it is being said that 2025 is too soon.