A grandmother received a notice from her service provider to let her know that copper services were to be removed from the area. This meant her service would be moved onto a fibre connection and her existing copper connection would be disconnected.
After speaking with her grandson, a concern was raised around the ability for her to contact family and emergency services in the event of a power cut. As a result, the family wished for her connection to stay as it was.
Having reached an impasse with her service provider, her grandson approached TDR for assistance.
From the provider’s point of view, it was not feasible to continue with the grandmother’s current service as the business would no longer provide support for the copper connection. However, under the 111 Contact Code, an alternative means of communication such as a cell phone could be provided if the grandmother was eligible as a vulnerable consumer.
The grandson felt that the alternative offered was unsatisfactory as he believed the device would be too complicated for his grandmother to use.
Mediation was provided to help the parties better understand each other’s issues and to collaboratively identify alternative solutions.
The option of a wireless broadband connection was discussed, as this would allow for a homephone that could be plugged into a modem. While this could still be affected by power cuts, it was a standard phone connection. Unfortunately, the provider later discovered that the service was not available at the grandmother’s property. This resulted in an agreement not being met.
Adjudication was the next step. This is where TDR makes a legally binding decision. The adjudicator considers the information provided by both parties, along with the provider’s responsibilities under the 111 Contact Code and Copper Withdrawal Code in order to make a decision.
The adjudicator concluded that there was no legal basis to prevent the provider from withdrawing copper services which left the customer with four options:
- Moving to another provider that offers copper.
- Moving to another provider that offers wireless broadband service.
- Moving onto a fibre connection.
- Using cell phone services.
While the complaint was not upheld, TDR provided this information to the grandson and his grandmother so they could consider their options.