Sky, TalkTalk & BT pledge protection for vulnerable customers

Telecoms giants, Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media O2, have agreed to set new measures aimed at safeguarding the most vulnerable individuals.

During the ongoing upgrade of phone lines to a new digital network, the pledge addresses concerns over serious incidents impacting telecare users, specifically the elderly and disabled who depend on remote support systems.

According to the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the move is a “positive step” by the industry to make sure safety continues to be at the heart of the nationwide switchover.

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Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “It is absolutely right that the most vulnerable people in our society should feel safe, secure and have complete confidence in the services provided to them.

“That’s why I have brought our biggest network providers and industry regulator to the table, agreeing a cast iron set of principles to reassure people and put their minds at ease.

“The recent issues families have had to endure are unacceptable and today’s agreements will help to protect consumers in future.”

Other agreed measures include a commitment by providers not to force customers onto the new network until robust protections are in place.

The government will also continue to work with the telecare sector to reduce risk for users during the digital transition, it said.

Telecoms Minister, Sir John Whittingdale, continued: “These commitments are a promise to the most vulnerable people in our society – we will leave no stone unturned in making your safety and security the number one priority for our telephone providers.

“When people need help, they should have every confidence that the services provided to them will get them the assistance they need, and I am clear that recent failings must never happen again.”

He concluded: “It is important we have a telecoms networks fit for the modern age and it’s right the technology is updated to keep pace with the demand we place on it, but in modernising the network providers must also work closely with customers to understand their needs, particularly the most vulnerable customers.”

The news comes as Community Fibre recently called out BT and Virgin Media for “stifling” and “confusing” customers, making it harder for them to leave and join other service providers.