Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
March 10, 2022

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“Installers need to start preparing now for all-IP” – BT Redcare’s Nick Whiting on ECHO, all-IP and reconnecting at IFSEC 2022

IFSEC Global sits down with Nick Whiting, Head of BT Redcare, to discuss developments in the alarm signalling sector and plans ahead for the vendor – covering everything from ECHO’s benefits for installers, to the migration from PSTN to all-IP, to what attendees at IFSEC 2022 can expect to see from the team in May.

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Nick Whiting, Head of BT Redcare


IFSEC Global (IG): Nick, BT Redcare recently supported a webinar IFSEC Global ran with the ECHO team to share the news about the programme’s development to the wider security industry. What would be your message to security alarm installers regarding ECHO and what they need to know?

Nick Whiting (NW): Yes, it’s certainly something the whole alarm industry in the UK should be aware of. It’s worth recapping a little on what ECHO – or Electronic Call Handling Operations – is first of all. Essentially, the initiative enables alarm receiving centres (ARCs) to send confirmed intruder or hold up alarm signals to police responders through electronic means, rather than via a call handler or operator. It’s designed to significantly speed up the process of alarm transfers and to eliminate potential misunderstandings, such as mishearing of an address, that come with a person relaying information or URNs.

The Essex Police were the first to implement the process from all their registered ARCs from 1st October last year, and recently Avon and Somerset have announced they’ll be accepting alarms via ECHO from 1st April, so the initiative is now beginning to really hit its stride after a lot of work over the past few years. Ultimately, the police estimate it could reduce response times by up to four minutes.


Watch: ECHO – What is it and why every second counts?


From where BT Redcare sits in this process, we’re a platform integrator for ECHO, so our secure network provides that connectivity for the ARCs into ECHO, which sends the alarms through to the police responders. All our products are suitable for use with ECHO, and as you mention, there’s some real benefits to installers using ECHO-ready equipment. Once the initiative starts operating in their area, customers will receive faster police responses in emergency situations – a key differentiator between professional monitored  installations and self-monitored or ‘DIY-based’ systems.

IG: Keeping with the theme of the sector’s digital development, how is the move to all-IP progressing?

NW: The move to all-IP is all about providing a better communications network and modernising it to replace the old public switched telephone network (or PSTN as it’s better known), which is approaching the end of its service life and becoming difficult to maintain. By the end of 2025, traditional phone lines will be phased out and upgraded to a digital voice service, either via a full fibre or part-fibre internet connection.

The process has already started, such as in Salisbury and Mildenhall, where they ran the first ‘stop sell’ initiatives, and there are now a further 549 areas where a stop sell notice has been issued, with 180 of those where it has come into operation. A stop sell notice informs communication providers when they will no longer be able to buy PSTN services and any changes to existing lines may require an upgrade to a digital phone service. From September 2023, there will be a nationwide ‘stop sell’ on PSTN services.

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IG: For installers and those maintaining alarms, why do they need to act now? And any advice on how they can best educate their customers to explain why they are needing to upgrade their systems?

NW: Aside from being aware, we’d recommend those who aren’t sure about the changes to understand the migration process itself, and what will happen once their customers migrate to the new digital phone service – basically, the older, dial up alarm signalling systems will stop working.

It’s also going to be crucial to be aware of when your customers are migrating, as communication providers are making their own plans with them which will impact their alarm system – unbeknown to them. Customers should be receiving written letters or emails explaining when their switchover date is likely to be, but the time between the official notification and actual switchover may vary.

Our advice is to get ahead of this early, as you don’t want your customers being left without a working alarm system if they migrate without you knowing. And, with this all taking place over the next few years, there’s going to be a significant amount of migrations to carry out for installers. If you can plan ahead and get started now, it’ll make life a lot easier down the road, when kit will be in high demand and time before the switchover may work against you.

Find out more about the move to all-IP from BT Redcare, here.

IG: And do you think enough installers are aware of the move to All-IP?

NW: Certainly there’s more to be done, but the message is beginning to get through. Openreach is running  a trial messaging campaign right now to homes and businesses in Mildenhall to promote the move, while vendors such as ourselves have been communicating with our ARCs and installers regularly about the PSTN switch off since early 2018.

To support installers, we are launching an all-IP upgrade offer, which will mean there are zero upfront costs on most of our signalling products, as well as a reduction on the ongoing costs of annual rentals.

And, because we understand there’s an educational message to get across from the installer to the customer, we’re launching an all-IP marketing toolkit as well. One of the biggest challenges for the industry will be explaining to end-customers what is changing and how it affects them, so this initiative is designed to support those conversations. The kit will contain flyers that can be co-branded, alongside a short video explaining the move to all-IP that installers can show to customers.

IG: We understand you recently added to your ‘Next Generation’ range and also received LPCB certification for it. Why is it so important to BT Redcare to receive third-party independent certification for the range?

NW: We initially launched the Next Generation range in November 2018, and our most recent addition was the Essential-IP offering within this. The range covers everything from single path to dual path systems, with differing technologies for connections, such as wired IP or wi-fi, single or dual 4G wireless, and IP with dual sim 4G back up options for more resilient true dual path signalling.

When bringing the range to market we had spoke at length with installers to understand their requirements. From these conversations, the products were made smaller to fit inside panels better, and have OLED displays with full text descriptions so they can understand the status easily. All backed up by our 24/7 helpdesk and 10-year guarantee.

We really value our third-party certified status – it’s critical to our offering. It’s an ongoing process of certification from the BRE, with regular audits to ensure quality is maintained. ARCs, installers, insurers, building owners – whoever it is should be able to rely on the reliability and quality and that’s what LPCB (part of the BRE) helps with in ensuring we meet, and exceed in some areas, the required standards from a completely independent standpoint. We have it on solutions across the range, but also all our dual path products have additional EN54 certification – something that’s essential as it’s a requirement for construction products used in fire systems, but also means installers only need one device for their fire and/or security installations.

IG: Finally, you’ll be back at IFSEC and FIREX this year I believe? What are you looking forward to most about the event and what will visitors be able to see from BT Redcare?

NW: I think the main the thing we’re looking forward to, like everyone else I’m sure, is to be back at the event and meeting everyone face-to-face again. IFSEC is always a fantastic opportunity to meet with our installers, ARCs, customers and other exhibitors as well.

For those coming by our stand, we’ll have our range of Next Generation products on display as working demos, so installers can get the chance to see and feel the products and understand how easy they are to install.

We’ll also of course be promoting our third-party certified status and how important that is, ECHO and we’ll be on hand to answer any questions relating to the move away from PSTN, and how we are helping installers.

There might even be a new product or two launching at the show – but we won’t reveal anymore at this stage…!


BT Redcare will be exhibiting on stands IF4830 at IFSEC and FIREX International this year, taking place between 17-19 May at London’s ExCeL. Secure your place for free today, and don’t miss the chance to talk to the team and explore new solutions.


 

Download the Intruder Alarm Report 2020

Download this report, produced in conjunction with Texecom, to discover how increasing processing power, accelerating broadband speeds, cloud-managed solutions and the internet of things and transforming the intruder alarm market, and whether firms are adopting these innovative new technologies.

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