This month Simon Banks talks to John Livermore, ALL IP Programme Lead at BT Consumer. BT Consumer is the main retail division of BT Group that provides fixed-line, mobile, broadband and digital television to consumers in the UK.
The media are reporting that BT Group are making the move to Digital Voice. What does this mean?
BT is changing the way it provides telephone services to its UK customers, moving from analogue to digital technology. BT intends for all its customers to be using fully digital telephone services by 2025. A digital phone service works using broadband. Customers will plug their telephone into their broadband router instead of the faceplate on the wall like they do today. Customer needs are changing and the analogue equipment that powers telephone services today is ageing and increasingly difficult to maintain. Today, telephone calls made over landlines are pretty much the only form of communication that travel over networks which have not been part of the digital revolution. The upgrade to digital telephone services means that BT can offer its customers some exciting new benefits that take advantage of the efficiency and flexibility the latest technology brings. The reliability, trust and familiarity of today’s existing telephone services will be maintained.
When will people start to see the changes?
BT will start to launch new digital telephone services from the start of 2018 with the aim of upgrading all its UK phone customers by the end of 2025.
What will this mean for the Electronic Fire & Security Industry?
The industry needs to be aware and prepared for the changes that are happening. The main change is that the new digital telephone service will run over broadband. DECT technology that is already largely in use today will power phones, so extension wiring will no longer be required and any additional telephone handsets in the home will just need a power supply. Any customer across the UK can choose to upgrade to the new phone services. BT wants to work with Installers to ensure customers with alarms are identified so that the transition to digital is managed as smoothly as possible.
What can the Electronic Fire & Security Industry do for non-IP services they have today?
Initially an analogue adapter will be provided as part of the broadband router to enable customers’ services to continue to work. BT will also supply, on request, a voice reinjection lead and socket for customers that need them (for example for those with extensions). This is a short-term solution and we encourage all alarm companies to exploit the opportunity to enable a much richer range of products and services.
How will we know if our products will work with the new technology?
We’re opening a new test facility at Adastral Park near Ipswich in Spring this year for Installers to come and test their equipment and identify how the changes will affect them. It is also an opportunity to innovate to provide new products and services that take advantage of the opportunity that digital brings.
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