In 2017, BT announced their desire to move all voice communications to IP, a move that will have implications on our industry, particularly around Telecare signalling which works on the current analogue network.
Similar to when we switched to digital TV a few years ago, we’re now looking at the same kind of switch for telephony services to an all IP network. But this means many of the existing telecare signalling devices may not work, or work as well as they have in the past
Many have asked why is BT making this change, basically the PSTN analogue network is old technology, it’s limited in what it can do and maintaining the network is becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive. So for the last few years BT has been creating a digital network, upgrading exchanges across the country and they’ll be looking at launching their first digital services in 2019. And for those who say it will never happen, it will. At the end of 2018 BT released its Home Hub 2, the first step to seeing Digital Voice rolled out across the country.
It’s not all bad news of course, with digital networks comes all the benefits of modern technology with additional services and applications all managed via your telephone line. And it’s not just BT that’s looking to move to all IP, most of the other major telephony providers, including Virgin Media, Talk Talk and KCOM are undertaking similar programmes.
BT is already running voice services over their Digital IP network, and aim by 2025 to have everybody migrated to all IP. So whilst 2025 is the proposed end target, digital services will start to roll out from this year and consequently telecare systems could be affected from then too. However we’re making every effort to exclude telecare users in the initial stages.
But the time to take action is now.
BT is building in some fall back measures in case any users may lose service. For example, the new Home Hub 2 mentioned earlier will have an ATA (analogue telephone adapter) port, to allow analogue devices to continue to work while the switchover happens. But this is only short term measurer until an IP solution is installed.
Ultimately the message from BT is users would benefit from have a tried and tested IP product to use on an the all IP network. Whilst the ATA socket will, in most cases, allow analogue equipment to work on the all IP network there is a chance of failure where signals are converted back and forth between analogue and digital. The ATA’s may provide some providers a time extension to use their old analogue equipment, but there are no guarantees in such instances.
BT has been working with industry bodies and Telecare providers to minimise any disruption to users. Many manufacturers, including Appello, have visited our BT Digital Services lab where we have created an all IP network to test equipment. And we’re delighted to be speaking at a few Appello events around the country this year to offer advice and guidance.
Senior Product Manager –
Digital Voice Special Services