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Time to be alarmed?

The clock is ticking, is it time to be alarmed about your security system? You may be aware that BT Openreach are in the process of upgrading the UK’s telephone network from old copper wire to a fibre network. Due to this change, which is estimated to be completed by the end of 2025, BT Openreach advises that current monitoring connections on fire and intruder alarm systems will stop working. This could mean you may be in breach of the conditions of your insurance, and this could result in your policy being voided.

What is happening?

BT Openreach are migrating existing PSTN lines to IP-digital networks. Salisbury and Mildenhall were the first trial areas to start moving to all-IP digital network and there will be 50 to 80 telephone exchanges migrating per quarter. Once a telephone exchange can provide the full fibre network to 75% of the premises it serves, they will no longer sell analogue services in that area. By September 2023 BT Openreach will not accept new analogue lines, whilst also limiting maintenance of existing lines.

Is this important with regards to your alarm service?

The IP-digital network operates differently to the current PTSN network and as a result the alarm transmission systems (ATS) used for fire, security and other building management systems may no longer work. This affects for example digital communicators, CSL Dualcom products and BT Redcare products and could also include personal safety alarms when transmitted over the analogue network. If this happened you could be left without a functioning connection between your alarm systems and the alarm receiving centres, making your premises vulnerable.

Also, an important secondary consideration linked to this 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. It is recommended that you have a suitable battery backup supply, or 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matters further, against the backdrop of network migration, the 2G and 3G mobile network will follow and will be withdrawn by 2033. ATS will therefore need to be both IP and 4G/5G enabled in the future.

What to do next?

If you have not already heard from your alarm installation and maintenance company about the roll out of the new IP-digital network and whether it affects your ATS, you should contact them as soon as possible. The changeover from copper phone lines to the fibreoptic network is happening now. Therefore, there is the potential for the supply of the necessary monitoring equipment to fall behind the demand. As well as product supply, lead times for engineers to attend callouts to complete the change may also be extended.

Another important point for consideration is the migration to a like-for-like product. So, if you are currently on dual path monitoring, it is suggested that you continue with a dual path product compatible with the fibreoptic network. The differing levels of monitoring can be confusing and choosing the wrong product could lead to our clients having inadequate coverage relative to the risk of the individual, premises and contents.   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.

If you are unsure on how this could affect your insurance policy please do not hesitate to contact your advisor at Cox Mahon on 01743 366 350 or email [email protected]