David Casey

Journalist, Routes Online

June 26, 2017

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FIREX 2017

FIA spells out challenges surrounding PSTN shutdown

BT’s decision to phase out the UK Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is set to present a major challenge for the fire and security industry, the chairman of the Fire Industry Association has warned.

Martin Harvey told delegates at FIREX International 2017 that the move to VoIP would affect millions of fire alarm systems which require a PSTN line.

PSTN is the traditional phone line, whereby analogue voice data flows over circuit-switched copper phone lines. BT intends to switch off the PSTN and ISDN networks by 2025, with customers migrated to a single IP core network.

“There are about four million digital communicators which use PSTN signalling fire and security system alarms,” said Harvey, who is also head of regulatory affairs EMEA at Tyco/ADT.

“The industry has a big challenge ahead to see how it can overcome this.”

He added the other obstacle the FIA is talking to Ofcom about surrounds power cuts.

“Fire and security systems will generally run for about eight hours minimum – fire systems often 24 – and phone lines going into houses will continue to work because the telephone exchange powers it at 50V DC.

“That is going to come to an end. That means your alarm system if you have a power cut will no longer work.

“There’s therefore a challenge for the industry is to how we can power that broadband pipe from the premises as oppose to from the telephone exchange. We don’t have the answer to that at this moment in time.”

Speaking in the Expertise & Guidance Theatre, Harvey added: “We’re currently trying to negotiate with Ofcom but unfortunately the alarm industry is not seen as a primary user of communications within the UK, and government mandate seems to say ‘sorry, it’s your problem, not ours.'”

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