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BT Switch Off


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I am helping a small charity (that Mrs Messy works for) to decide on what course of action they need to take to prepare for the analogue switch off over the next two years

Its tricky as it's a free for all out there as every IT salesman and his auntie are trying to make a quick buck

Only land lines and kit connected over the Internet (eg via a router) will work after the switch off

This charity currently uses a land line and remotely accessible voicemail on daily basis and don't have a lot of cash for a fancy IP alternative like an app based option.

I spoke to the caretaker that runs the building they operate from and he wasn't aware that some linked fire and intruder detection systems won't work after switch over. That's a bit scary as the charity have panic alarms in meeting rooms that might not operate

I wondered whether any F&RS are publicing this change as there is a Y2K potential that linked fire detection systems  for smaller businesses may fail? 

I haven't seen any such advice yet 

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These 2 links give you lots of information The BT Copper Switch Off   and  Upgrading to Digital Phone Lines.

Theoretically, all internal digital phones are cordless and all your old internal copper network is obsolete.  However, when I was changed to digital,  the engineer showed me how to keep the old phones working on the internal copper circuit while having cordless digital as well.  Disconnect the 2 wires coming into the master BT socket from BT, they are now redundant.  Connect a BT631A Plug to BT631A Plug cable from the digital modem to the copper circuit master socket and the copper circuits are up and running on the same number.

Remember that in the event of a power cut the whole system falls over.


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@Kinmel Many thanks

I wonder how those without internet access will get on, especially the elderly or hose on low income (aka generally those at the higher fire  risk end of the community)?

My 9o year old mother in law has her pacemaker monitored via some clever kit in her bedroom connected to her phone. Surely the Govt aren't going to chuck her and other more vulnerable members of our society on the scrap heap and even more isolated. She's also partially sighted so will not be able to learn how to use a mobile phone at her age

The lack of landlines in a power cut hadn't got past me either. That could be seriously bad news for a lot of people 

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BT have committed to solving the power supply problem with onsite battery backup.

What is strange however is that the early fibre installs had a backup battery buit into the premises' ONT box which converts the light signal to digital.  To save costs they redesigned the box without the 12volt battery.

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IP based solutions are actually quite cheap to implement, there are several options and actually call plans can be far cheaper with minutes often bundled in cheaper than line rental.  Vonage is less than £20 a month, line rental alone from BT is about £17.

If you just have the need for one phone it can be quite simple, there are lots of ways to do it but for Joe public at home they will likely to provider will be their ISP and the router will have a socket you can plug your existing phones into.  For the advanced user at home who does use the ISP router this can be problomatic, the advice there would be to port the number to a SIP provider and use alternative hardware such as an ATA which does the same job or you can plumb the SIP details into a compatiable device like you see in a corporate office, small phone system, ATA or even an app on your mobile so you can have true portability.

Many ISP's/providers have a way to proide a phone line via a internet circuit for cost if no internet is needed to speak to your provider, Kcom for example in Hull run fibre to the building and on their ONT device where the fibre terminates in the property is a socket you just plug your phone on.

Your next step would be something like this, you can run a analogue line but also plumb in SIP details and you can run it as a basic system.  ATA's look like this there others available.  Vonage is often best simple option for a home user.

If you are a business and the Gigaset option above isnt what you want but you want a tradtional office phone system i.e. ex 201, 209, 225 etc my recommendation would be something like 3CX, you can run it on minimal hardware keeping costs low or even in the cloud, you pay montly fee for your SIP trunks and numbers and any calls unless you have a package, then you purchase phones or use a app on your computer or phone and a headset (the cheaper option) and effectively you could be anywhere making calls.  I run 3CX at home because I can and I pay £2 a month for my number and what ever calls I make, I have a few handsets I got cheap off eBay and an app on my phone.

Backup battery, there has been discussion about this, like mentioned BT did provide batteries and I think the vulnberable can still request this but I think it now falls on the customer, there was a whole discussion but cannot remember where now.

As regards to lift lines, alarms, redcare many providers have now moved this onto SIM based products as they are cheaper than fitting lines, speak to your provider and they can see what is compatiable with your solution, not sure if lift lines are still even a requirement now.

There are plenty of companies cashing in on it, typical sales, the more advanced you go the costly it can get, handsets brand new are not cheap, using app based gives you flexability to work any where, handy for BCP, even Teams can be setup as a phone system so external calls come via that if your a big user of that.

Feel free to drop me a line for a chat, networking and telecoms as well as servers is my day job in the NHS.

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