Should you opt for a digital or an analogue personal alarm?

Selecting a personal alarm can be a daunting process. There are many options available and one of your first considerations may be whether to opt for an analogue or a digital personal alarm.

Essentially, both can do the same job – alert someone when help is needed. But the difference comes down to their connectivity. Analogue personal alarms connect to an analogue telephone landline, whereas digital personal alarms use the internet for connectivity.

With many homes in the country having an existing analogue phone line, it could be tempting to opt for an analogue personal alarm. But, anyone looking to purchase a personal alarm now would be wise to consider the longer-term implications of analogue.

There’s a big change coming to the country’s network of telephone lines: the digital telephone switchover. And not only will it impact how you use the telephone, but it will also impact your personal alarm.

What is the digital switchover?

The digital switchover – also known as BT Digital Voice – will see all analogue telephone lines replaced with digital lines by 2025. BT announced the upgrade in 2021 due to the increasing demand for quicker connectivity and networks. The new digital lines will facilitate telephone calls via an internet connection.

But the switchover will have an impact on any equipment that relies on a telephone landline to operate, including personal alarms that are still analogue-powered. So, there has never been a better time to prepare for a digital future.

The benefits of a digital personal alarm

Digital personal alarms are not affected by the digital switchover, as they do not rely on a telephone landline to work. So, if you opt for digital, you won’t need to worry about what happens when your area switches over. Should you have a fall at home or need urgent help, an in-home personal alarm will notify the contact centre via the new digital connectivity, which is over a mobile network.

In addition, it is generally accepted that digital personal alarms have a higher connection reliability rate in comparison to their analogue counterparts. One estimate places analogue alarm connection failures at 20%, a worryingly high figure for anyone who is vulnerable or who needs to summon help.

Digital personal alarms will also benefit from easy maintenance. Any software updates can usually be made remotely, and digital solutions can be constantly monitored and supported online, unlike analogue systems, which need manual support and can incur an additional cost of an engineer call-out charge.

The aim of digital personal alarms is to always deliver the best possible coverage. Out-and-about personal alarms already use a multi-network SIM rather than relying on a single mobile network provider. They will automatically scan for the strongest signal wherever you are.

The benefits of an analogue personal alarm

Perhaps the main benefit that an analogue personal alarm has over its digital counterpart is its continual connectivity. Because it uses an analogue landline to summon help, even during power cuts or interruptions, the landline remains unaffected. Whereas new digital phone lines require power to work, meaning if you lose power, your analogue alarm won’t be able to make a call.

But the good news is Careium digital devices operate on a ‘dual path’, which means if broadband goes down, the SIM will still connect to the network in a power cut.  All our units also have a lithium backup battery pack inside and will continue to work for up to 168 hours.

However, if you are still concerned, you can request a backup battery pack for your digital personal alarm unit from your telephone provider to ensure that digital devices continue to work for a period of time in the event of a power outage – usually an hour.

What can I do if I have an analogue personal alarm?

Once your area switches over to digital, then your analogue personal alarm will only work if you use the Analogue Telephone Adapter built into most of the digital voice routers. This adapter will allow you to continue to use your analogue alarm on the new digital voice system. It’s important to understand, however that this won’t be reliable 100% of the time, which can be a risk for people that rely on an alarm service.

It’s also possible to ask BT to be excluded from the digital switchover if you’re vulnerable. However, as analogue phone lines will not be maintained after 2025, it’s not a long-term solution.

Perhaps the best option would be to look to upgrade your equipment to a digital version, to bring peace of mind that your personal alarm won’t be impacted as a result of the digital revolution.

While it can seem daunting with such a big change looming on the horizon, it’s important to remember that change will also bring opportunity. We’re likely to see more and more digital devices that offer an even wider range of benefits to the user, including speed of connection, reliability, smart solutions, sensors, and wearables to ensure peace of mind for the elderly and vulnerable. 

Here to help you navigate the switch-over

If you have any concerns about how your personal alarm will work once the switchover is complete, or want advice as to choosing a suitable personal alarm, please contact Careium and we’ll be happy to talk you through your options. We’re dedicated to ensuring that we find the right service for each individual customer regardless of their needs.