BT has delayed plans for a complete switchover to digital landlines due to fears it could inconvenience and endanger around two million vulnerable people across the UK.

The telecoms giant had set a deadline for a national switchover from physical copper-based landlines for the end of next year but has pushed back the final date to January 2027.

The move comes after phone providers recently paused pushing customers to digital lines following a spate of “serious” incidents involving telecare devices.

Millions of people still rely on older infrastructure landlines connected to personal alarms.

After the switchover, legacy landline phones are likely to stop working if there’s a power outage.

BT says the UK must ditch increasingly “fragile” analogue landline technology.

However, it recognises that robust solutions must be implemented to protect vulnerable customers.

The company’s head of security and networks, Howard Watson, added: “Managing customer migrations from analogue to digital as quickly and smoothly as possible, while making the necessary provisions for those customers with additional needs is critically important.”

BT has already outlined several measures to support at-risk customers during the switchover.

It will send out free battery backup units and offer landline phones with both broadband and mobile connectivity.

Campaign groups aren’t impressed, though. Silver Voices head Dennis Reed believes the delay and measures are merely a “token concession.”

He also called for the deadline to be pushed back even further so BT and phone providers can reach a consensus on defining a “vulnerable customer” and ensuring more safeguards are in place.