BT Fined £800,000 for Broken Voice-to-Text Services for the Deaf

By Gary Cutlack on at

Ofcom, the UK's communications watchdog, has fined BT a huge £800,000 for letting down its hearing and speech impaired customers, thanks to a five month delay in launching a new voice-to-text system.

BT was supposed to launch the new service for hearing impaired customers in April of 2014, but it was September before it eventually appeared for use -- because of sound quality issues on numbers used by emergency services.

The Ofcom ruling explains: "In October 2012, Ofcom told all UK landline and mobile phone providers to launch their service by 18 April 2014. BT missed the deadline having encountered technical problems with the sound quality of emergency calls. It launched Next Generation Text on 24 September 2014."

You might think it's an automated system that'd be easy to stick in place, but it's not. The Next Generation Text Service actually connects calls via an operator in a call centre, who transcribes messages and passes them between the two parties, meaning there's room for all manner of confusion if things don't work straight away.

BT apologised for the delay in getting it together, saying the calling quality issue was a "safety issue" that could've put users at risk if, say, "fire" was mistaken for "hiya." [Ofcom via CityAM]