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PSTN transition to IP Voice

An update from BT Redcare on how it affects the alarm monitoring industry.

By now, many of our customers will have heard about the transition to IP Voice – be that through articles in the trade press through to formal consultation meetings held by Openreach; presentations given by the IP Voice team in BT Consumer; and, indeed, my own statements of what the effects will be for BT Redcare customers.

I promised to keep our customers up to date with progress– BT Redcare is, after all, part of BT!

Firstly, let me give some clarity and explanation as to how Openreach relates to the BT Consumer IP Voice team, and how that then links to BT Redcare:

  • Openreach, although part of BT, acts independently and autonomously in the interests of multiple service providers (eg BT, Sky, Talk Talk etc) in providing the physical connectivity of that service providers' network offering between points of access (exchanges) throughout the UK and a customer's premises.
  • BT Consumer is a division of mainstream BT that has decided on a strategic approach to upgrade the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is analogue based, to a new digital IP Voice offering. There are many benefits that the digital revolution will bring, including greater clarity and quality of calls for example.
  • Given BT's decision to make the investment to do this over the next 7 years, coupled with the fact many other service providers will be doing the same, Openreach is now in active consultation mode across the full telecommunications industry to seek views, advice, concerns and perspectives, in order to deliver a world class and orderly transition that meets all its universal service obligations.

The alarm monitoring industry is a subset of the many consumers of PSTN, regardless of which service provider the end-customer may use. In that respect, any customer with an alarm monitored device, regardless of who the equipment provider is (BT Redcare, CSL, panel provided digital communicators etc), may be affected by the changes ahead.

BT recently opened a new Digital Services Lab at Adastral Park, offering all suppliers the ability to test their equipment, to check their resilience and capability of PSTN devices connected to the new IP Voice network – from that each supplier will draw their own conclusions and make recommendations to their customer base.

Redcare is BT's alarm signalling offering, so we've been actively involved in the development plans to move BT's PSTN network to an IP digital solution, and our products are being thoroughly tested at the Digital Services Lab.  So far, our products have been successfully tested but we do recommend the following up-or-downgrade paths for Redcare Secure devices where there is any reliance on the PSTN:

  • Upgrade the device to Secure IP (by connecting an Ethernet cable to the customer's broadband hub), or
  • Confirm to the customer that nothing will be done, and so their device will become a single path Secure Solo. Customers will need to make sure their insurance company is made aware. We however do not recommend this course of action for Fire applications.
  • Where an Agile PSTN product is fitted, this will require a swap out, as these devices cannot be simply up-or-downgraded.

It is important to separate BT's strategic desire to move our customer base from the PSTN to an IP solution, which is about changing the network from analogue to digital; and the copper versus fibre debate.

Redcare's Classic and GSM products use BT's copper based infrastructure – this is the physical connectivity, not the 'network' layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) stack. In other words, neither of these products or legacy versions have any link to closure of the PSTN.

BT, and Openreach, will continue to use a mixture of copper and fibre based solutions for physical connectivity across the country. And whilst copper remains, so do BT Redcare's Classic & GSM offerings – any withdrawal or closure will not be based on the IP Voice transition.

BT Redcare's next generation portfolio has been designed to offer new and existing customers a simplified choice for the future – whether they desire to be upgraded to the latest technology, or whether through doubt or fear that may have been impressed upon them.

Our Ultimate product

In many respects our Classic mark II, it:

  • uses a private BT provided IP network - resilient, diversely routed and with no public internet connectivity
  • has a built in broadband hub for either copper to the premise, be that copper all the way to the exchange, fibre to the cabinet (FTTC)or fibre to the premise (FTTP)
  • is battery backed-up within the panel to ensure connections are not tampered with, and the unit is not affected by power failures -accidentally or otherwise.
  • comes with two resilient back-up wireless paths, one using the most extensive 4G network in the UK and the other a roaming 4G SIM.
  • is small in size, so easier to fit into modern day panels, and comes with OLED display for easy set-up
  • is all backed up by our 24/7 network support and SightCall APP amongst many other features
Our Advanced or Advanced Extra product
  • offers similar features to our Ultimate, but uses the customer's own broadband hub for its IP primary path connectivity.
Our Essential product
  • is an entry level single path roaming SIM for low to medium risk scenarios, and an ideal choice for those concerned about in-built digi-communicators that rack up PSTN phone bills and may be compromised as IP Voice is rolled out across the UK.

Our BT Redcare account team are more than willing to answer your queries, present our offering and overcome any concerns you may have – please do get in touch.


Kind Regards,  

John Ware - General Manager

27 September 2018