BT has apologised to members of the hearing and speech impaired communities after technical problems forced it to delay the launch of its Next Generation Text Relay service.
Text relay enables people to communicate with others via a relay assistant who converts speech to text, and vice versa, for the two people in conversation.
BT has been working on an upgraded version which will offer users “faster, more fluent conversations” as well as the option to access the service on smartphones and tablets.
The new service was due to launch this week in compliance with an Ofcom-mandated go-live date of April 18th.
However the launch has been postponed after final testing revealed problems with the quality of emergency calls, an issue BT says “could have put users at risk”.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom said it was “very disappointed” with the delay.
In a statement it urged BT to do “what is needed to deliver a fully operational service as soon as possible” and said it would “investigate the circumstances behind the delay.”
BT has apologised for the postponed launch and reassured users that the current service would remain in place until the upgraded system was ready.
A spokesman for the company said: “We have had to take the regrettable decision to postpone the launch of the service, for people with hearing and speech impairments, because of a safety issue.
“Recent final testing of the new NGT service revealed a problem with the quality of emergency calls that could have put users at risk. We have therefore postponed the launch of the new app until we have resolved this important issue.
“BT is committed to improving text relay, which it has run for more than 20 years. The existing service will continue to serve customers until the launch of Next Generation Text Relay, which will offer an easier and more natural way for people with hearing and speech impairments to communicate and will be available via an app for smartphones and tablets.”