Transforming the UK telephone network into an ALL IP platform – BT Consumer working with BSIA to get the industry prepared

Thursday 31 May 2018 - David Wilkinson, Director of Technical Services, BSIA

As part of a global transformation of telephony services, the UK is undergoing a transformation from an analogue to ‘ALL IP’ platform across the UK. The BSIA is working closely with Ofcom and communication providers and other stakeholders to ensure our industry sector has the opportunity to voice its concerns and expectations as well as raise awareness of the changes and impact this will bring.

BT has announced its plans to transition to an ALL IP digital platform over the coming years and expects to complete the change by 2025. In particular BT has been seeking a way to identify its consumers who have a ‘special service’ (such as an alarm or telecare service) operating within their premises, as this may be impacted by the change to ALL IP. 

The security and fire industry still has a significant number of customers that rely on analogue phone lines to provide voltage and dial tone to connected alarm devices and this configuration will change with the transition to an ALL IP digital platform.

BT envisages that security service providers will cease buying analogue equipment in the near future, and that they will move to more compatible solutions that are designed to communicate digitally. With the recent announcement of the opening of BT’s digital services lab at their R&D centre, alarm providers (installers and manufacturers) are now able to test both their existing and any new ‘ALL IP’ systems.

BT is keen to work with BSIA and the wider security and fire industry to protect consumers during this transition, by ensuring that those who rely on their current analogue alarm devices move to the new digital phone service in a controlled way, to ensure that alarm services continue to perform their critical role.

Antoine de la Gardette, who heads up the engagement team for BT said, “It’s really important that we get the message of the switchover out to the industry as quickly and as widely as possible. It’s a massive programme of change, bigger than the switch over from analogue TV to digital TV, and we want to make sure nobody is left vulnerable when the analogue systems stop working”.

BT has advised that they would, as an interim solution, provide an Analogue Telephony Adapter (ATA) port with their new home hub, which could help to keep some current products working until they can be upgraded or replaced. It should be stressed however that the new home hub provides no battery back-up, therefore phone connectivity will be prevented when home power fails. Any voiceband alarm data exchange could also be affected by the new IP-networks, and so would at least require further testing. 

Several BSIA manufacturer members have already taken up the offer of testing their signalling products at BTs test centre, demonstrating both the industry and the Association’s commitment to embrace the new technology and prepare for the future. The BSIA welcome these very supportive steps from BT, and we recognise their desire for alarm service providers to identify or develop new digital solutions for their customers, whilst providing additional time for the necessary transition. The BSIA is also raising awareness of these changes to both members and the wider industry at regional BSIA briefings, working with experts from the field in updating those affected with invaluable and timely information on the upcoming transition.

If you would like to find out more about the BSIA Briefings that discuss the ALL-IP transition visit our website at www.bsia.co.uk/events to find an event in your area. If you have any queries on the transition please contact us by email to technical@bsia.co.uk  or by calling 01905 342020. If you wish to contact BT Consumer directly please contact btdigitalvoice@bt.com  

To arrange a testing of your signalling equipment (communication using the PSTN) you can contact them on https://www.btplc.com/DigitalServicesLab/index.htm