Petition calls for reliable communications for all
By Enjoy Alford and Donside on 17/03/2022
Her petition calls for the planned switch off of analogue signals in 2025 to be paused until digital communication reliability can be assured for everyone.
It follows the recent storms which battered Aberdeenshire, leaving some rural communities without power for up to 10 days and without a broadband/phone signal for 14 days.
Cllr Blackett said: “The storms left thousands without any means of communicating with the outside world. With mobile masts down, people had no means of contacting emergency services unless they had an old-fashioned analogue phone.
“Communication is key to resilience yet the failures are not being addressed. This is an issue that affects rural communities all over the UK and I am working with others to ensure the rural voice is heard and a solution found."
Cllr Blackett told of one family who could only stand and watch as their house burnt down, utterly powerless to call for help. Luckily no one was hurt or killed.
With more extreme weather events predicted in the future, she said many rural communities had no security of back-up communication in the event of broadband failure and lengthy power cuts."
Cllr Blackett said: “With no access to phones or email in rural communities, how do emergency services such as doctors, ambulance, police, fire respond where needed?”
Ofcom said it had set clear expectations on phone companies around the switch to digital calls. It said they should communicate effectively with customers and identify people who may be at risk because they depend on their landline.
A spokesman added: “Those customers should be offered a free solution that meets their circumstances, such as a mobile phone that works in the area, or battery back-up. We have written to all major phone companies to remind them of their obligations, and will closely monitor their response.”
See the petition at https://www.change.org/p/ofcom-pause-bt-digital-voice-roll-out-until-emergency-communication-is-resilient-in-rural-areas