Navigating the Digital Switchover – An Interview with Steve Smith

Steve Smith

The Digital Switchover in the UK is set to commence in 2025 and will introduce a wave of change for call centres, telecare providers and sheltered housing schemes across the country. This transition from traditional analogue landlines to a fully digital system brings a range of challenges that need to be addressed effectively to ensure the seamless continuation of critical alarm management in the UK.

We’ve met Steve Smith, Executive Director and Founder of Tecs Advisory, whom has over 30 years of experience within technology-enabled care and the communication network sectors in the UK. He provides a detailed run down of the issues Sheltered Housing Schemes are facing, the reason the analogue network isn’t working anymore - and why there’s no use in hoping for a delay in the Digital Switchover.

Psst! Sign up for Skyresponse’s webinar about how to navigate the 2025 Digital Switchover on March 13th. Moderated by Steve Smith and together with Skyresponse’s technology Partner   

Why is the Digital Switchover happening?

The decommissioning of the analogue landlines is not just an upgrade, but a necessity to be able to handle communication effectively in the future.

“The analogue equipment was installed in the 1980’s, the engineers that were trained to support that equipment are virtually all retired, the manufacturer of that equipment closed 15 years ago, the electronic components to maintain the equipment no longer exist. Even the information to maintain it is almost lost. There's no training on that old equipment. This is not a case of upgrading just to make simple improvements, they have to upgrade because the old system is breaking down all over the country,” explains Steve.

Even though the Digital Switchover has been in the works for nearly ten years, a lot of providers in the telecare sector still appear to be unprepared for the change.

“I think there’s a hope that it will go away and that they’ll delay the process so that everyone will be fine for another 10-20 years. But that just isn’t the case, the whole network will be switched off in December 2025.“

Main Challenges when preparing for the Digital Switchover

The Digital Switchover means having to replace a vast network of analogue equipment with compatible digital counterparts. There is now limited time to complete a very resource hungry national project. The cost mainly falls on cash strapped local authorities supported housing and care providers and the telecare services sector. The project also requires specialist skills sets and technologies and it is likely that the supply chain will become overstretched as organisations rush to respond.

“There's a lot of worry by commissioners running out of time. Their connected call centres have yet to be upgraded to an IP protocol, so they can’t even change their equipment because it won’t be able to link into the call centre. There’s a timeline-panic regarding the market leading alarm receiving provider in the UK, because they still haven’t formally launched digital devices,” says Steve.

The most common Fears of going from Analogue to Digital:

  1. Equipment Upgrade and Compatibility: Providers rely on a network of alarm devices and monitoring systems that are currently connected to the analogue network. With the switchover, these devices will become obsolete and will need to be replaced with compatible digital counterparts. This process involves a significant upfront investment in new hardware and software, which can be expensive.
  2. Service Disruption and Continuity: The digital switchover is a phased process, with different areas transitioning at different times. This approach poses challenges, especially for technology-enabled care providers, who need to ensure that their services remain uninterrupted throughout the transition.
  3. Data Security and Privacy: Technology-enabled care services involve the collection and transmission of sensitive personal data, such as health and location information. With the switchover to digital systems, providers need to ensure that their data security measures are robust and compliant with data protection regulations.

Sheltered Housing Schemes most vulnerable during the Digital Switchover

The switch will affect every enterprise that manages or handles analogue signals, but some organisations will have a more difficult time than others.

“My real concern on behalf of commissioners is Sheltered Housing Schemes. There are almost 25 000 of them in the UK and less than 10% are currently digitally enabled. The options there are much more limited. The equipment is installed, physically wired with cables in buildings etc, and typically, a replacement of those is very expensive.”

Steve provides his thoughts on the options Sheltered Housing Scheme Providers have when preparing for the Digital Switchover:

  1. Replace the grouped equipment with individual devices and then utilise Skyresponse’s platform to deliver a call to the onsite manager and/or the 24-hour monitor centre.

  2. Buy a dedicated converter to convert the analogue to digital, to then deliver a digital connection to the call centre. Several call centre providers have launched converters, but none of them seem to be working, except for the who will be able to reliably link the old equipment to the new call centres through an IP connection.

Learn more about how to navigate the 2025 Digital Switchover at Skyresponse’s webinar March 13th

The Digital Switchover may present challenges, but it also offers an opportunity to modernise, enhance effectiveness, and lower costs in the long term. By adopting a proactive approach, embracing innovation and reviewing the options available, call centres, telecare providers and sheltered housing schemes can emerge from this transition stronger and better equipped than ever before.

Do you want to know more about the 2025 Digital Switchover and the options you have for safely managing your alarms and events before, during and after the switch? Sign up for our webinar on March 13th, moderated by Steve together with Skyresponse technology Partner

Read more about the webinar here.


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