July 2020

This update includes:

  • Overview of BT’s all IP programme – Why are we doing this?
  • What it means for you.
  • Openreach WLR withdrawal update
  • Migration of Special Services users
  • Support and future events

Overview of BT’s all IP programme – Why are we doing this?

At BT Consumer we’re making some changes to the way we provide phone services. In line with all UK Communications Providers we’re upgrading our customers from the existing analogue phone service to an enhanced IP service.

For our customers the key change is that in most cases their telephone service will run over broadband. Phones will connect to the broadband router instead of being plugged into a phone socket on the wall. We aim to have all of our customers using fully digital phone services by the end of 2025 to coincide with the withdrawal of the PSTN service by Openreach.

We’re making these changes because the PSTN system is dated and it’s difficult to maintain. But equally, we’re all communicating differently too. VoIP, SKYPE, WhatsApp and more lately the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being increasingly used to communicate. These new apps offer converged telephony, better quality, HD Voice and many other additional features. And as we look ahead to the “Internet of Things” this will help bring a seamless integration between devices and networks.

What does this mean to you?

While moving to an all IP network promises exciting new communications services, some existing Special Services equipment connected to the old PSTN network may no longer work, including:

  • Security alarms
  • Fire alarms
  • Personal (telecare pendant) alarms

Voice over the new IP network works very differently to the existing analogue network. If you’re a Special Services equipment manufacturer, service supplier, or alarm receiving centre any equipment or services that currently use the PSTN or ISDN networks need to be checked for compatibility.

We’ve been talking to key industry bodies, manufacturers and service providers for over two years now. We’ve emphasised the need to make sure that their customers know their security, fire, and personal alarms needs to be compatible when they switch to a Digital Voice service. BT Consumer’s Digital Voice product was launched in January 2020, so customers can potentially start switching to the digital network today.

We’ve welcomed many Special Services providers, equipment manufacturers to our test labs at Adastral Park. They’ve tested their equipment on the new all IP network and via BT’s interim analogue telephony adapter (ATA) built into our market leading Home Hubs. You can see who has tested their equipment at the lab and check with them to see if their equipment is compatible on this website.

Our lab is currently closed due to Covid19 safe working practices. We’re looking to reopen the lab as soon as it is safe to do so, but this is unlikely to be before September 2020. However you can still contact us if you have any technical queries or to discuss any further testing you think may be necessary. Just drop us an email.

Special Services users will soon be included in migrations

BT Consumer continues to exclude Special Services users from ordering the new Digital Voice product. There’s no technical barrier for these users, we’re doing this while we make sure robust processes are in place and to give Special Services provider’s time to get ready.

But, because this is an ambitious programme where everyone will need to move to all IP communications by the end of 2025, BT Consumer will soon allow Special Services users to take Digital Voice. So it’s really important that customers are ready for the change and that their equipment is either upgraded or adapted to work on an all IP network.

We’ll let you know when the exclusion is lifted as its likely service providers will start getting contacted by customers on the back of it.

Openreach WLR withdrawal update

Openreach is running trials in the Salisbury and Mildenhall exchange areas. The trials will enable Openreach and Communication Providers to test the best approach for migrating end customers and to understand the supporting processes needed.

In both trial areas Openreach will stop selling PSTN and ISDN lines in advance of the national date. In Salisbury this will be in December 2020, In Mildenhall it’s May 2021. Copper broadband and voice services will be withdrawn at the end of the trials in 2022.

As part of our engagement with Alarm and Telecare providers we’ll be asking them to help us identify operators with customers in the trial areas.  We’ll then be able to track the progress with these operators and customers and make sure there are no issues.

And Openreach have announced they will stop selling PSTN and ISDN products in a further 117 exchanges from June 2021. This will affect over 1.2 million customer premises and from that date you won’t be able to buy new analogue lines in these areas. Here’s a list of the exchanges

Again as this date approaches and end customers start taking up all IP products, there may receive increased communication from service providers asking how they’ll be affected.

Support and future events

BT Consumer remains committed to supporting the Special Services industry. Our key aim is to ensure no customer is left without service during this change from analogue to digital.

We continue to engage with industry bodies in both the alarm and telecare industries, and whilst we are unable to personally attend any events (until September at least) we are keen to support virtual online events where practical. So if you need some support or would like us to get involved in an online event drop us an email.

And finally

Don’t forget, this is not a BT only programme and we’re working with the industry to create a consistent message. Special Services suppliers need to think about their strategy now to limit the impact of the all IP transition on their customers.

Here’s some links to resources you may find useful

Contact us: btdigitalvoice@bt.com.

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