The UK digital upgrade, are you prepared?

11 December 2023

In May 2018 Openreach, who are responsible for the management of the national telephone network, announced plans to close the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by the end of 2025.

Computer cables


The existing network is reaching the end of its service life and is being replaced with a new all IP-digital network using fibre, scheduled for completion by the end of 2025, to replace the existing copper network cabling. The move to the new digital network will affect all communication providers using the Openreach network, for example, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and others, and will deliver improved digital services for customers.

There is no published migration plan, each communication provider will work to their own plans and notify affected customers. Openreach withdrew wholesale line rental services that used the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) on 5 September 2023 and all new connections now utilise the fibre network.

Why does this matter?

The IP-digital network operates differently to the current PTSN network and as a result, the alarm transmission systems (ATS) used for your fire, security and other building management systems may no longer work. This might also include personal safety alarms where transmitted over the analogue network. If this happened you would be left without a functioning connection between your alarm systems and third party alarm receiving centres, making your premises vulnerable.

An important secondary consideration linked to the move to the new network is the loss of the existing 50-volt supply currently available across the analogue network. The new digital fibre network will not provide a voltage over the line to your premises so in the event of power failure your network service will be lost, including anything linked to it, like fire and security ATS. This means that unless you have a suitable battery backup supply, your premises could be left without alarm signalling for the duration of any power cut.

To compound matters further, against the backdrop of network migration, the 2G and 3G mobile telephone network is to be phased out by 2033. ATS will therefore need to be both IP and 4G enabled in the future.

What to do next?

If you have not already heard from your alarm installation and maintenance company about the rollout of the new IP-digital network, and whether it affects your ATS, you should contact them now. It is important that you are covered ahead of the switchover in your area and your system upgraded if required. You can then be confident the signalling to your fire, security and building management systems will continue to work, helping to protect your premises for the future.

Additional information on the digital upgrade can be found on the following websites:

The All IP Programme (openreach.co.uk)

All IP Information (bsia.co.uk)

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