Ofcom is currently investigating Virgin Media for potential non-compliance with rules aimed at protecting vulnerable customers during the ongoing digital switchover of landline services. This transition, from analogue to digital, has raised concerns about its potential impacts on people, particularly those who rely on telecare systems that utilize landlines.
Virgin Media has stated that it is working closely with both Ofcom and the government, but also emphasized the need for other parties, such as telecare companies and local authorities, to take responsibility for ensuring that everyone receives the necessary support during the transition.
The concern stems from the fear that the switch from traditional copper phone lines to digital lines could render telecare systems vulnerable to power outages or internet drop-outs, potentially affecting their ability to automatically call emergency services when needed.
Ofcom’s investigation into Virgin Media’s compliance primarily focuses on two areas: ensuring uninterrupted access to emergency services for customers and the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. This comes after a series of “serious incidents” involving the failure of personal telecare alarms prompted telecoms firms to pause the transition to the new digital phone network in December.
Ofcom has stressed the critical importance of the telephone network in allowing people, particularly vulnerable individuals, to contact emergency services. As such, any action or inaction by communications providers that disrupts consumers’ ability to reach these services is being taken very seriously.
Further information regarding the progress of the investigation will be published by the regulator in due course.