Deaf News: BT launch plans for next generation text relay service

Posted on August 29, 2013

Plans are being unveiled for BT’s new next generation text relay service.

BT is introducing alternatives to the 18002 prefix, textphones and voice carry over (VCO) service. Starting from April 2014, the new service will be available on home, office and mobile phone lines from BT and other telephone service providers.

Rather than needing a textphone, from April 2014, users will be able to use an internet connected device, such as iPads , smartphones and computers, to make calls via a free app. The service will use your internet connection and phone call to create two parallel channels between you and the service. The internet connection will be used for text while the phone call is used for voice.

However, customers will need a telephone line or mobile phone connection to make and receive text relay calls. When someone calls you via the new service, any alerting device on your phone – such as lights flash and vibrating alerts – will be triggered.

Next generation text service users will be able to link their home, office and mobile phone numbers to a new TextNumber instead of adding the 18002 prefix to their existing phone numbers to receive text relay calls. A typical phone number will have 11 digits, the same as a standard phone number.

There will be two TextNumbers groups. The first group is the 03 prefix that will be used for home or office phone numbers and the other starting with the 07 prefix for mobile phone numbers. Deaf and hard of hearing customers will be able to give their new TextNumbers to family and friends or anybody who wants to contact them. Hearing users will simply dial a deaf person’s TextNumber and their call will be connected via the Next Generation Text Service.

BT promises its new service will provide better voice quality for VCO and text relay users who can hear. The new parallel channels will enable words to be typed and read at the same time as words are spoken and heard.

The new service offer customers the chance to pick their own telephone service providers. It is hoped that telephone providers will offer BT’s next generation text service as part of their phone packages.

Text Relays users who don’t want to change their textphone or the way they make calls will be able continue to use the 18001 prefix.

BT will launch a new website with news and information about the revamped service later this year.

By Paul Harrison, the Limping Chicken’s News Reporter. Paul is a freelance journalist, currently living and working in London. When not at his desk writing or tweeting, he can be found at a coffee shop or Loftus Road/The Stoop/Celtic Park (delete as applicable) mumbling insults at the referee or sloppy passing. Follow him on Twitter as @paulbharrison

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