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Choosing a digital-ready, no landline personal alarm

Not all personal alarms need a telephone landline. Prepare for the digital switchover with a digital personal alarm.

October 18, 2021

Elderly man with digital personal alarm pendant

Personal alarms can help you or a loved one live confidently and independently for longer. With a personal alarm, you can quickly and easily call for help should you have an emergency such as a fall.

However, traditional personal alarms rely on the analogue telephone network to alert the Emergency Resolution centre. The digital switchover, known as BT Digital Voice, will replace all analogue telephone lines with digital lines by 2025. 

This will have an impact on any equipment that relies on a telephone landline to operate, such as traditional personal alarms.

What is Digital Voice?

Digital Voice is what BT are calling the new digital home phone service. You can find out more on the BT Digital Voice website.

Are personal alarms compatible with BT’s Digital Voice?

If your landline is due to be upgraded and you want to use a personal alarm, you have a couple of options:

  1. You can choose to opt-out of the upgrade so your landline personal alarm continues to work with the analogue telephone line. This shouldn’t be considered a long-term solution as analogue telephone lines will no longer be maintained after 2025.
  2. Or once your landline has been upgraded, you can connect your personal alarm to the new equipment provided by the telephone provider. You may need to use an Analogue Telephone Adapter. However, in the event of a power cut, your personal alarm would have to rely on a backup power source.
  3. The recommended solution for most personal alarm users is to upgrade to a digital personal alarm. These do not rely on a telephone landline and so are unaffected by the Digital Voice upgrade.

Digital Voice compatibility

We have tested all our personal alarms at the Openreach testing lab and we know which of our own products work with new Digital Voice service from BT – we cannot vouch for other alarm providers though and so this advice only applies to our products.


What is the best digital personal alarm to choose?

Which is the best personal alarm for you depends on what features and wearable options you would like.

To help you, we have a handy personal alarm comparison feature online. You can choose a personal alarm based on how you want to wear it, whether you want fall detection, an activity monitor, mobile calling and more.

Here are 4 popular digital personal alarms:

1. Taking Care Anywhere

    Taking Care Anywhere

    If you want to combine the reliability of an in-home personal alarm with fall detection and GPS tracking, Taking Care Anywhere is a good choice.

    Yes Worn as a neck pendant, on a belt or keyring.
    Yes Talk with the Emergency Resolution Team through the pendant.
    Yes Detects falls automatically.
    Yes GPS tracking included.
    Yes Water resistant.
    Yes Spare pendant included.
    Yes 1 - 2 months pendant battery charge.

    Includes 1 month free alarm monitoring + 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.

    Taking Care Anywhere

    2. Out-and-About Mobile Alarm

    Mobile Alarm

    If you want a personal alarm that includes outbound mobile calls and has fall detection, then the Out-and-About Mobile Alarm will suit you.

    Yes Worn as a neck pendant or on a belt clip.
    Yes Talk with the Emergency Resolution Team through the device.
    Yes Detects falls automatically.
    Yes Includes GPS tracking.
    Yes Can send alerts to friends and family if the device moves outside of preset locations.
    Yes Mobile calling to two contacts.
    Yes Up to 50 hour pendant battery charge.

    Includes 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.

    Mobile Alarm

    3. Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch

    Watch alarm

    If you want stylish personal alarm to wear on your wrist, try the Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch.

    Yes Talk with the Emergency Resolution Team through the watch.
    Yes Includes GPS tracking.
    Yes Can send alerts to friends and family if the device moves outside of preset locations.
    Yes Built-in pedometer measures the number of steps taken daily.
    Yes Approx 16 - 18 hour battery charge.

    Includes 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.

      Personal Alarm Watch

      4. Out-and-About Classic GPS Alarm

      GPS alarm

      The Out-and-About Classic GPS Alarm is an easy-to-use device with one button to press:

      Yes Worn as a neck pendant or on a keyring.
      Yes Talk with the Emergency Resolution Team through the pendant.
      Yes Includes GPS tracking.
      Yes Can send alerts to friends and family if the device moves outside of preset locations.
      Yes 48 hour pendant battery charge.

      Includes 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.

        GPS Alarm


        Comparing landline alarms and digital alarms

        How does a landline personal alarm work?

        A personal alarm that relies on a telephone landline is a simple but reliable device:

        1. You wear the alarm as a pendant or on your wrist.
        2. When you need help, you press the button on your wrist.
        3. This communicates to an alarm base unit in your house, which is connected to the telephone landline.
        4. The alarm base unit calls the 24-hour monitoring centre. They will respond by talking with you through a built-in speaker and microphone in the base unit.
        5. If you need help, the monitoring centre will call friends, family or the emergency services.

        How personal alarms work

        How personal alarms work

        Although the alarm base unit has a powerful built-in speaker and microphone, the range of these types of personal alarms is limited to the home and garden, normally approximately 75 metres / 246 feet away from the alarm unit.

        In comparison, a digital personal alarm will work anywhere, not just in the home and garden, and often has other useful features that you can benefit from.

        Digital alarm pendant

        How does a digital personal alarm work?

        Unlike landline personal alarms, digital models do not use a telephone landline to call the 24-hour monitoring centre:

        • The digital alarm pendant has a pre-fitted multi-network SIM, a bit like a mobile phone.
        • However, unlike most mobile phones, the digital alarm pendant will automatically switch between networks to get the best and most reliable signal.
        • When you press the alarm button, the pendant will call the 24-hour monitoring centre. The pendant will have speaker and microphone inside of it so you can speak directly with the monitoring centre using your pendant.
        • Digital pendants use GPS technology so the alarm monitoring team will know where you are when you press your button.

          What are the advantages of a digital personal alarm?

          Advantages of digital alarms

          Here are some of the advantages of digital personal alarms compared to traditional landline personal alarms:

          • They are unaffected by the BT Digital Voice upgrade plans.
          • No need to have an alarm base unit close to your telephone socket.
          • They work anywhere in the UK where there is a mobile signal. This means you can use it when out for a walk or on holiday. Digital alarms use a multi-network SIM, which means they do not rely on one mobile network. Instead they switch between networks so you get the best possible coverage.
          • Speak with the Emergency Resolution Team from any location through the “talking pendant”.
          • Cost of alarm calls included in the subscription.
          • GPS tracking included so the alarm monitoring team can accurately identify your location and direct help to you.
          • More choice of styles and designs, including a personal alarm watch.
          • New features available, including mobile calling, activity monitoring and fall detection.


          Digital Switchover FAQs

          Can you have personal alarm without a landline?

          Yes, a digital personal alarm uses a multi-network SIM rather than a telephone landline to alert the alarm monitoring centre in an emergency. This means you have more freedom and can use the digital personal alarm when you are out-and-about, not just in the home and garden.

          Which personal alarm without a landline is best?

          The Taking Care Anywhere is a popular digital personal alarm, although other models are also available. You can compare digital personal alarms online or our Sales Advisors can recommend a personal alarm based on your circumstances. You can speak with a Sales Advisor by calling 0800 085 7371, 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.

          How do digital personal alarms alert the monitoring centre?

          A digital personal alarm will have a pre-fitted multi-network SIM. This automatically switches between mobile networks to get the best and most reliable connection. When the alarm button is pressed, the pendant will alert the monitoring centre over the mobile network.

          Do digital personal alarms cost more?

          A digital personal alarm starts from £16.83 a month for the Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch or Classic GPS Personal Alarm. This is just 2p a month more than our In-Home Classic Personal Alarm!

          All our personal alarms include a 30-day risk-free home trial so you can order with confidence that you can return it if you are not happy for whatever reason. The Taking Care Anywhere digital alarm also includes the first month free.

          How do I get a digital personal alarm?

          You can compare personal alarms online and securely place your order when it is convenient to you. Or you can speak with a Sales Advisor by calling 0800 085 7371, 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.

          I’m an existing customer. Can I upgrade to a digital personal alarm?

          Yes, of course. Our Customer Service team are happy to help and can explain the options to you. If you would like to upgrade, call our Customer Services team on 0800 085 7371, 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday or contact us online.

          Where can I find our more about the digital switchover?

          If you want to know when your telephone lines are due to be upgraded, you should speak with your landline phone provider, or contact Ofcom or Openreach for more information:

          We are happy to help with any questions you may about your personal alarm. Call our Customer Services team on 0800 085 7371, 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday or contact us online.


          Helping customers through the digital switchover

          To help our customer, we've published articles and resources in the Digital Switchover section of our online Live Well magazine.

          Digital switchover articles

          What to read next

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          Will my personal alarm still work after the digital telephone switchover?

          Personal alarms that use a telephone landline may not work on the new digital system and some may need an adapter.

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          How will the digital switchover affect my personal alarm?

          Personal alarms that use a telephone landline may be affected. Find out how we can help you prepare for the switchover.