back to article BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

BT is forging ahead with plans to shut its traditional telephone network in Britain, with the intention of shifting all customers over to IP telephony services by 2025. The closure of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is part of plans by BT toward internet-based voice calls via a fibre network. As such it will be …

  1. Mike Brown

    How will 999 calls work, in a blackout?

    1. djstardust

      Oh well

      Does that mean free line rental then as telephone users won't have the old system to pay for now?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Oh well

          So, in case of a powercut (ie, the local transformer not getting any power due to something taking the incoming line out) the backup power will be sourced off of another circuit on the local transformer?

          Makes sense I guess, assuming it's a roundabout way of delivering a reduction (to zero) of the call waiting times for the call centre that takes calls about powercuts.

        2. Gideon 1

          Re: Oh well

          No, you will not get a 50V pots line with fibre, instead at the premises you get an Optical Network Termination unit with a Battery Backup Unit which contains rechargeable cells. These will locally generate the 50V required to operate legacy POTS termination equipment. Openreach will roll this out to every line, completely removing all the copper network.

          The exchange will only need a router with all optical interfaces.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            Here's hoping the ONT they choose is a drop-in replacement for the master phone socket (power supply issues aside), otherwise it'll look messy and won't be a true replacement to all the phones in the house.

            1. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              that’s not the job of the ONT as it only has an RJ 45

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Oh well

                Not correct. Openreach has two versions of ONT - one has four RJ45 ports (data) plus two BT sockets (phone), the other is 1 data, 1 phone. All ports work independently of each other - you could have four internet services and two phone lines running off of it if you liked. Cheap and nasty altnet operators may provide a data only ONT but Openreach still has to think about essential + legacy services.

                Both can be powered off of a battery backup unit that runs off of a set of rechargeable AA (AAA?) batteries. Likely good enough for most people given the proliferation of cordless phones (and how many people take the advice to keep a cheap corded phone around for emergencies?). Will get you through most power outages, and if you're desperate you can shove more batteries in to extend life. Or just run it off a UPS.

                Will be interesting to see if Openreach starts doing POTS from the FTTC cabs (unless they really do get FTTP out to the masses by then). Might just be as easy as shoving in cards capable of voice and VDSL.

            2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              "won't be a true replacement to all the phones in the house"

              All one?

              Don't most people rely on mobiles? It's cheaper for me to call Sweden on my mobile than it is on the land line!

            3. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              >Here's hoping the ONT they choose is a drop-in replacement for the master phone socket

              We've been using VoIP instead of landlines for quite a few years in the US using either fiber of coaxial equipment. The customer premess equipment -- FiOS box or cable modem -- has a POTS ("Plain Old Telephone Service") connector that interfaces to the house wiring. So all the phones work like they used to. Except they don't quite. Depending on your provider I've found that ISP software can 'forget' you and claim your number is disconnected. The customer premises equipment -- either the FiOS box or cable modem -- needs to be powered at all times to work. There is a battery backup but it only lasts for about 12 hours or less. You're supplying the power, of course, and the backup battery is your responsibility (they don't last for ever). Caller ID is a bit iffy as well but as its getting spoofed by all and sundry that's probably not a loss.

              We've used both fiber and cable and phone company software aside they work just like landlines. Many people aren't bothering with landlines any more since cell service is an adequate replacement. We keep our landline on partly because we've had the number for decades and partly because the cell service can be a bit hit and miss because of terrain (at home it usually switches to WiFi).

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            Openreach will roll this out to every line, completely removing all the copper network.

            And will they pay for the cost of installing the copper required to carry AC mains to those remote devices which don't currently have mains power nearby?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh well

            Ha. In the US(ATT) were there is fibre and the power goes out you are done. You can have a generator and you are screwed. Why, the cabinet has no back up power.

            This is one time were comcast has ATT beat. I had comcast and the power went out for over 3 hours. They have a battery back up. Alpha Cabinets. When they saw that the power was goingto be out for some time they came by with portable generator.

          4. NorthIowan

            Re: Oh well

            "you will not get a 50V pots line with fibre, instead at the premises you get an Optical Network Termination unit with a Battery Backup Unit which contains rechargeable cells. These will locally generate the 50V required to operate legacy POTS termination equipment. "

            Which is what our local fiber optic connection is. Apparently we've had that long enough now that the last phone bill included a piece about how we might need a new battery soon. I looked and my unit still had a green light.

            I hope that it lasts till they upgrade us to gigabit fiber optics which might not happen till 2019. :-(

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              we might need a new battery soon. I looked and my unit still had a green light

              That light is meaningless unless you have a particularly advanced UPS.. I've had UPSen that showed everything as hunky-dory when powered but, as soon as the power fails, the battery lasts about 30 seconds.

              From memory (and I could be wrong), the standard UPS battery tests just test the resistance of the battery and, if it's within range, shows a green light. There are lots of circumstances where the battery could have the correct-ish resistance yet have no power reserve.

          5. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            @Gideon 1

            Dunno why you got so many downvotes for what was an informative and correct answer.

            For those who doubted you (and doubt me) I offer aintbigaintclever's video giving a walk-through of the kit installed at his house, battery back-up and all.

            I also recommend his video on constructing a Penrose Triangle.

            1. Shades
              Trollface

              Re: Oh well

              Have an obligatory downvote for moaning about downvotes.

            2. Aqua Marina

              Re: Oh well

              “Dunno why you got so many downvotes for what was an informative and correct answer.”

              Because this is The Register comments section, where truth is determined by votes rather than fact.

          6. This Side Up

            Re: Oh well

            What about loop disconnec t phones? Will they be catered for by the legacy interface.

            Btw it used to be 48v (traditionally backed up by 24 x 2v glass accumulators in the basement). Are they using 50v now?

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              Are they using 50v now

              That nominally 2v lead-acid cell actually has an open-circuit voltage of 2.1v, so 48v nominal but a measured 50.4. Both get used.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Oh well

          "or locally from a lamp post power"

          Which would also be out in a power cut so that doesn't help.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Oh well

        "Does that mean free line rental then as telephone users won't have the old system to pay for now?"

        Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Oh well

          Same way as it does now?

          Battery-backed units in the cabinets/exchanges which provide service for a limited time? We tend to call them UPS in the IT trade. If only someone had come up with a way to UPS IP-based technology, eh?

          To be honest, though, I manage a school's IT and our procedures just say "call 999". But in all the meetings we have, we are quite aware that we're much more likely to be able to do that safely from out on the playing field with a mobile phone than trying to call from a landline.

          Despite the fact that we have leased lines, SIP trunks, analog and ISDN backups (for emergency calls only), we recognise that we're actually much more likely to want to be OUT of the building before we worry about that. And then if O2, EE, Vodafone and whoever else are ALL down, and we can't pick up the Wifi to SIP-dial, that that's a scenario that may call for extreme action like - going to the nearest house and borrowing their phone and hoping that's not affected.

          999 call handling won't change, because the other end is almost certainly IP-based by now, at some point anyway. The call handling centre MUST be IP in this day and age, surely? With analog backups, sure, but it must be IP for the first-hop and local devices?

          But to be honest, 999 calls must be literally THOUSANDS OF TIMES more likely to come from a mobile handset nowadays. Because you can flee AND call, rather than have to stay in the emergency area. Sure, for an injury, you could call on a landline but then you're tied between the landline and your patient unless he happened to collapse in a very convenient location.

          I think we're being spoiled nowadays, given that only a generation ago, it could have to be a run to the local phonebox (Remember those? Remember the years of being taught how to use them to dial 999?).

          I'm not saying they shouldn't provide 999 services and backups and everything else, but surely nowadays calling 999 can be done by one of DOZENS of methods. Hell, Skype even lets you dial 999. I don't see that IP conversion would inherently degrade or change the system for doing so.

          1. RogerT

            Re: Oh well

            You've fallen into the common trap of assuming that everyone has usable mobile coverage. That is *NOT* the case.

            1. Blanch

              Re: Oh well

              Exactly, out village has intermittent at best reception.

              Tried to get Vodafone to do something about it, rating them poorly in their surveys, but it falls on deaf ears.

              It is a real safety issue if you cannot call emergency services due to an accident with in the village, and pretty poor to be fair, considering we are not far out of the nearest large town!

            2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: Oh well

              You've fallen into the common trap of assuming that everyone has usable mobile coverage. That is *NOT* the case.

              Certainly not the case at my house, And there's the actor up the road from me that's done commercials for *TWO* different cellular providers, and I doubt he's got a signal either.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            " Because you can flee AND call, rather than have to stay in the emergency area."

            And if you're trapped in the area? Or you don't have a mobile? Or have a mobile with no coverage?

          3. csimon

            Re: Oh well

            > Because you can flee AND call, rather than have to stay in the emergency area.

            You reckon that the only people who need to call 999 or those that can get out the house and drive a few miles down the road? What if you have a heart attack? Or a fall? What if your house is on fire and the escape route is blocked? What if you have no mobile reception at the house or in the vicinity? What if there is an intruder in the house and you need to stay hidden?

            Never mind, you're all right Jack.

          4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            "Sure, for an injury, you could call on a landline but then you're tied between the landline and your patient unless he happened to collapse in a very convenient location."

            Aren't most people using cordless phones at home nowadays?

          5. Jaybus

            Re: Oh well

            "we are quite aware that we're much more likely to be able to do that safely from out on the playing field with a mobile phone than trying to call from a landline"

            And what is powering the relay towers to which the mobiles must connect? Example: In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the only working comms in New Orleans were the government's satellite phones and old POTS phones that were powered from the POTS line itself.

      3. David Webb

        Re: Oh well

        Does that mean free line rental then as telephone users won't have the old system to pay for now?

        Probably the reverse, at the moment with FTTP you can ditch line rental and go pure VOIP (I did) as there is no copper, with BT moving to a VOIP system they can argue that if you have copper OR fibre then you have to pay line rental as you have a line.

        1. Nevermind

          Re: Oh well

          I've just had their prices, yes it's 15 quid a month more expensive and we have to have the BT hub so they can firkle around with the kit on our side of the net.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Oh well

            I highly encourage people to read "Living without electricity – one city’s experience coping with the loss of power (PDF) from Lancaster University, reporting on the 4-day power outage in December 2015, especially the "Communications" section, excerpted here:

            "The wired telephone system, powered from batteries in the exchange, continued to operate over most of Lancaster. ... Many people who had replaced wired handsets with wireless discovered that these do not work without a mains supply.

            Mobile phone systems did not hold up. ... Some have a battery back-up that continues to provide a service for an hour or two but few, if any, cope with the 30-hour loss

            Most domestic internet connections were also lost.

            The loss of communication services was one of the most significant problems reported by many people.

            I have VoIP service, but I also still have POTS, and I still have one old wired handset plugged into a socket, just in case.

        2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

          Re: line rental

          @Dadid Webb

          with BT FTTP (Infinity), there is no option to ditch the line rental, even if you don't (want to) use their phone service. Other providers may give you that option.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: line rental

            "with BT FTTP (Infinity), there is no option to ditch the line rental, even if you don't (want to) use their phone service."

            You still have the line, it's just made of a different material. It still needs to be provisioned and maintained. If someone else allows you to not pay an explicit rental you can be sure they've built the costs in elsewhere.

      4. AndrueC Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Oh well

        Does that mean free line rental then as telephone users won't have the old system to pay for now?

        Oh dear. How many more times does this have to be explained to people?

        Line rental is primarily to cover the cost of maintaining a copper pair (including staff, engineer's vans etc). For historical reasons a proportion of the cost also covers the provision of a voice service. That never was the major cost though. You will need to pay line rental of some kind for as long as you rely on a cable to connect your property to a network.

        Openreach have already launched a product that allows for a customer to forgo the voice service. Very few CPs currently offer it as a product but one that does is AAISP.

        It saves quite a few quid over the normal cost of line rental although a chunk of the difference is due to most CPs excessive markup on the openreach product they are 'reselling'. The underlying cost of providing a voice service appears to be a couple of quid a month.

        1. Vince

          Re: Oh well

          Or more accurately...

          AAISP provide a normal PSTN Line, but then add a feature to nobble its use. They also just happen to charge a bit less for said line, and choose to forgo higher margins others make.

          However, other ISPs provide said PSTN line for £10 (like AAISP) but do let you use the phone line for voice calls - it's the same wholesale service, without the nobbling.

          In the case of AAISP you are paying for a line you can't use for voice but it's an ordinary line, they have no special sauce.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh well

          Don't think SoGEA (the broadband only service) has actually launched commercially yet. I have two lines in two separate parts of the country. BT Wholesale's checker reports that SoGEA is available on one but not the other.

          I don't believe that AAISP service is actually SoGEA - it says that they ask BT to "renumber" the line - so it sounds like some sort of phone service still exists even if you cannot use it. I remember seeing this offering from A&A long before Openreach started their plans.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh well

        They would surely be prevented from forcing users by bundling their VOIP product with their line...

        I don't want a home phone, it's 100% scam calls that the useless twats of OFCOM seem powerless to prevent... Essentially a spam line that dusturbs me at teatime

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh well

          Upvoted. I only have a landline for the internet connection and unplugged the phone last year as the only calls I got were spam.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Battery backup. At least that is how my BT phone line over FTTP works.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Battery backup. At least that is how my BT phone line over FTTP works.

        For how long, 30 minutes to tide you through a thunderstorm, or 4-5 days to carry you through a major problem like in Lancaster a couple of years ago?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          >For how long

          Ofcom mandate a minimum of 1 hour.

        2. veti Silver badge

          A backup battery should last several days easily, unless you spend an inordinate amount of time on calls. If you reserve it for emergencies, there's no reason it shouldn't be good for well over a week.

        3. IGnatius T Foobar

          For how long, 30 minutes to tide you through a thunderstorm, or 4-5 days to carry you through a major problem like in Lancaster a couple of years ago?

          I have Verizon FiOS, which is the most common FTTP service in the US. The ONT they give us has a battery backup which will keep the whole service running for a few minutes, to get you through a quick power dip; after that it switches to a mode that just keeps the POTS lines running. That mode is supposed to last for about 8 hours.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I can't see that this is related to FTTP rollout. There's no way they'll have the whole country on FTTP by 2025, nor will they want to visit every home to install an ONT or VOIP box.

        My assumption is that they'll be replacing existing DSLAMs with MSANs, which means you will still be able to plug an analogue phone into the end of your copper line, but it will be digital from the MSAN backwards, rather than the copper carrying on back to the old exchange equipment. This is what LLU providers like Talktalk do already: the line terminates on their MSAN which handles both data *and* voice (turning it into VOIP).

        If OpenReach were to take this further then the FTTC VDSL2 equipment inside primary cabinets would be upgraded to MSANs, so they could eliminate all the copper back to the physical exchange. But this would mean getting all wholesale ISPs off of LLU and onto their GEA (FTTC) products.

        Maybe they can do this if they make the 40/10 FTTC product so cheap that it's not worth the other ISPs continuing to do LLU. It brings us back round to the days before LLU, where everyone ran on OpenReach's DSLAMs. But we already have that with FTTC and FTTP: no provider can install their own equipment inside a cabinet, nor light up a fibre.

    3. Ol'Peculier
      Mushroom

      When our exchange burnt down (and before mobiles were mainstay, not that it mattered because teh backhaul went down with it) there were police cars at major junctions so you had to leg it down to them so they could radio in.

      1. chalky
        Coat

        A proper copper line then..

    4. Christian Berger Silver badge

      It depends

      First of all you already have that problem with regular ISDN, there the solution is simply to have a local battery backup... which your PBX will need anyhow.

      If you still get a network connection depends on the way it's handled. For example classical ADSL tends to come directly from the old "switching office" where you have battery backup, so it should work fine. VDSL, particularly when done at the "curb" would need decentralized battery backups which may work. It won't work for vectoring as those boxes need _insane_ amount of power. If you have a dedicated fibre to your "switching office" to your home, it's likely to work. DOCSIS has many amplifiers and media converters, some of which are powered by the "groundstation" some are somewhere hidden inside your home.

      The good thing about VoIP from a reliability aspect is that you just need any kind of decent Internet access. At work we've had many companies using even things like LTE when their wire based connection broke down. For a competent administrator it's easy to patch together a perfectly acceptable emergency solutions. This is far harder with ISDN as if your provider's ISDN switch goes down, you're toast and there's nothing you can do about it. ISDN equipment used to be highly reliably, however now 30-40 years into the lifetime of the equipment you find more and more failures, but no more spare parts.

      So in short it's hard to say if VoIP will be more or less reliable given a certain situation. The main problem on current networks is that operators are trying out every new feature they can find. The result is that things like DTMF won't work, because one operator wants to do them as telephony-events, while the other one wants to do them inband (the saner alternative), and they somehow mess up signalling so both sides have different opinions on what's been negotiated.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "How will 999 calls work, in a blackout?"

      Same way they do when the lights are on but you might need a torch to dial?

      And if you mean in a power outage, then UK regulations already require that the 999 service works in that situation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UK regulations

        Regulators?

        In the UK?

        Enforcing the rules for the benefit of the punters rather than the industry itself?

        You're dreaming, man.

    6. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Most people have cordless phones. How do they work in a blackout? A good proportion of people don't use a landline phone. How do they work in a blackout?

      The answer is that this would have seemed like a problem back 20 years ago - remember when rabbit cordless phones came out? The base station had a 9V battery backup. That was the first digital cordless phone on sale in the UK, and people were probably genuinely worried about such things. These days... I think not so many people care so much.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        @anthonyhegedus

        Most people have cordless phones. How do they work in a blackout?

        The handsets continue to work just fine, because they have rechargeable batteries in them,

        The base stations, however, are a different matter. Most of them do not have rechargeable batteries in them.

        The solution is to always have at least one standard phone. If you're sensible, you put phone sockets and a standard phone anywhere you have a handset charging station, because you never know where you'll be in an emergency (like a fire that incidentally happens to burn through the electrics and trip the breaker). Standard phones are cheap enough. You probably have the sockets already from back before you bought the cordless phones.

        My view is that the reason you have a cordless phone is so you can wander from room to room as you talk (go to the kitchen for a snack, go back to the computer, have a piss, etc.) and you have an ordinary phone for when you've lost the cordless or in an emergency. YMMV.

        1. Bond007

          Re: @anthonyhegedus

          "The handsets continue to work just fine, because they have rechargeable batteries in them,

          The base stations, however, are a different matter. Most of them do not have rechargeable batteries in them."

          Isn't that a bit of a contradiction? If the base station either doesn't use or has batteries which aren't rechargeable, then the handsets won't continue to "work just fine" if the batts run out, will they?!

          1. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: @anthonyhegedus

            Isn't that a bit of a contradiction? If the base station either doesn't use or has batteries which aren't rechargeable, then the handsets won't continue to "work just fine" if the batts run out, will they?!

            No contradiction at all.

            The handsets work fine. Their display works. Their keypad works. Their RF section works. They work just fine. Without a working base station they're unusable (except as paperweights) but they do work.

            I've upvoted you anyway for being a pedant. :)

            1. Bond007

              Re: @anthonyhegedus

              Apologies Anthony for being a 'pedant', maybe I've missed part of what you said, but what exactly IS the point of mentioning that the handset(s) work, when if the base stations DON'T, that then renders them useless, regardless of whether the display/keypad/RF etc works eh???!!!

              If you have multiple base(s) in your house (which I'm guessing YOU might?), then I think my point ultimately STILL applies!

              Can you tell me what I've missed please?

              FWIW I have a wireless phone in MY house too, but only one base (whether it uses batteries or not, I'm not sure)

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: @anthonyhegedus

                when if the base stations DON'T, that then renders them useless, regardless of whether the display/keypad/RF etc works eh???!!!

                Well, you'd be able to look up the phone number that you need to dial on the old wired phone...

                1. Bond007

                  Re: @anthonyhegedus

                  Fair point! BUT, aside from being able to use the handsets as a digital phone book, they ARE useless in all other regards, are they not?!

                  Also (sorry for being a 'pedant' again) ; , but the original question was:

                  "Most people have cordless phones. How do they work in a blackout?", which was only really answered with the batteries line... so they'll only work up to a point!

                  Which is why I made the point about the issue with batteries, end of! ;)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Most people have cordless phones. How do they work in a blackout?"

        I have cordless. I wouldn't expect them to work in a power cut. That's why I also have an ordinary phone plugged into another socket.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Most people have cordless phones. How do they work in a blackout?

        Which is exactly why I have an old push-button phone in the cupboard under where the cordless phone sits..

    7. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      I think the home analogue phone will not be replaced. At the exchange shift will be done to logically connect the analogue "lines" to VoIP.

      I am not sure if I take this seriously because a lot of phone providers worldwide have been shifting from mechanical (crash and bang) to IP for so many years. I mean, one may have an analogue phone at home but at the exchange it is being transferred at IP level already.

      1. Paul Shirley

        sanmigueelbeer" I think the home analogue phone will not be replaced. At the exchange shift will be done to logically connect the analogue "lines" to VoIP."

        That's how the system has worked since system x was introduced decades ago, over BTs network not the public internet. The announcement can only mean VoIP from the premises or cabinet. A move to purely fibre requires something that looks like VoIP so they might as well just use the existing standards.

        Broadband modems sometimes have phone support built in already, virgin have it disabled in their Superhub, haven't checked BT recently but they used to have some sort of support in their modems. The hardware for adapters is cheap enough that a backup battery will be most of the cost!

    8. streaky Silver badge

      The hell is a blackout?

      On a more serious note of the 5 people that still actually use a landline 4 of them use wireless phones that take power from the mains anyway. The odds of that one person needing to call 999 is almost zero.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The odds of that one person needing to call 999 is almost zero.

        Milion to one, you mean?!

        This is the fallacy I see so often in disaster planning, the assumption that something is so unlikely it isn't worth worrying about, completely forgetting that it is precisely in that unlikely situation that you'll need it the most.

        1. Sarah Balfour

          But everyone knows million-to-one chances crop up 9 times out of 10.

      2. David Nash Silver badge
        Headmaster

        "The hell is a blackout?"

        What happened to "What"?

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      DR/BC

      In the event of a power outage, the equipment at the exchange will have a backup to cover disaster recovery situations to allow 999 calls.

      It should be part of the BCDR plan for the exchange. Hopefully being frequently tested to ensure it works.

  2. Hoppy

    Yeah right

    They cant even get me above 352kbs let along voip so good luck with that.

    I was going to entitle this T*ssers but decided not to :)

    1. Paul

      Re: Yeah right

      VOIP doesn't need much bandwidth at all, a few tens of kilobits/second if that.

      what it does need is power. old fashioned analogue phones are powered by the phone line, you don't get that with an optical fibre, and so a SIP ATA needs a mains adapter and battery backup.

      how many people have cordless phones at home where the base station has no battery backup? I think probably 99% of cordless phone base stations have no battery.

      1. David Webb

        Re: Yeah right

        My Fibre ONT has a battery backup which allows a Fibre phone to work during a power cut. Not that my provider offers the service, but the guy from OR put the battery in so when the battery broke down I got OR out to come and replace it, even if I don't need it, you drill the holes you're going to fix it if it messes up.

      2. quxinot

        Re: Yeah right

        >VOIP doesn't need much bandwidth at all, a few tens of kilobits/second if that.<

        Depends on if you want it to be understandable and of decent quality or not. I'm sure that they'll immediately turn down the bitrate into single digits so that all conversations are along the lines of talking to Charlie Brown's teachers.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss2hULhXf04

        I know VOIP is better than it was some years ago, but it certainly seems that overall phone call quality has gone dramatically down over the years.

        1. Christian Berger Silver badge

          Re: Yeah right

          "I know VOIP is better than it was some years ago, but it certainly seems that overall phone call quality has gone dramatically down over the years."

          Well that depends on many factors. There are providers and PBXes insisting on the god awful G.729 for example, while any decent provider will use G.711 which is just as good as ISDN (but with a longer delay), good providers will support G.722 which does much better quality at the same bitrate. Another problem are really bad ATAs. Quality doesn't seem to correlate with price. The best ones (I've seen) for home uses are the "Fritz!Box" series from AVM, which you can get refurbished for about 70 Euros, but cost around 150-200 Euros for the top of the line model... which includes an internal ISDN port, a DECT base station, as well as a V/ADSL modem. Software support usually is several years for feature updates, and longer for security updates.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VOIP doesn't need much bandwidth

        "VOIP doesn't need much bandwidth at all, a few tens of kilobits/second if that."

        Depends where you look/measure (and has done for years, and will continue to do so).

        At the end user end of the setup, e.g. most homes, offices, etc, the IP protocol overhead massively exceeds the bandwidth of the conversation itself, if there's only one or two phone calls on the wires. But you try getting more than one or two VoIP calls over a couple of Mbit of bandwidth and you're heading for trouble, bigtime.

        And don't forget that for intelligible voice conversations, latency can be quite important too. Latency often doesn't improve as bandwidth increases; often quite the reverse.

        "I think probably 99% of cordless phone base stations have no battery."

        Maybe so, but that's currently fixable with a couple of boatloads of line-powered phones. Lose line power, and more importantly switch the backbone to cheap IP kit (they're not moving to IP to improve service, are they?), and then how do you fix the "wide area power loss" problem.

        Ask someone who was in Lancaster when it mattered.

        1. Mr Sceptical
          Facepalm

          Surely they're offering full spectrum audio now...?

          BT have totally failed to say they'd be able to offer much better audio quality on a decent VOIP line rather than the 'select' frequency range we've suffered until now. This is the best opportunity to upgrade call quality since phone lines became commonplace last century.

          Anyone who's compared the audio quality of a Skype* call to the fixed or mobile standard realises it's comparing two tin cans & string to studio monitors.

          Plus, if all the VOIP handsets can't handle that quality audio then they've an excellent opportunity to partner with ones who can.

          Anyone would think the commercial opportunities here have been deliberately overlooked just to reduce their ongoing PSTN costs - very short-sighted!

          * caveat: over a decent internet connection.

      4. TechDrone

        Re: Yeah right

        650VA UPS under the stairs runs a house server, 14 port hub, VDSL router and Wifi bridge and phone base station or 35 minutes no problem. Most electrical works of late have taken 45 minutes...

        I've no idea who long it will run the phone base station by itself as I can't be bothered to sit in the dark long enough to find out. I suspect more power is lost in the UPS overhead than is used by the phone.

        I did try to get ethernet out to the garage for a second house server for redundancy but the missus decided I was taking things a little too far.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Yeah right @Hoppy

      If I remember correctly, ISDN specified a 144Kb/s link, which could carry a 2 voice calls, each using 64Kb/s, and a 16Kb/s signaling channel.

      Also IIRC from my POTS training, analog phone lines used to have a filter at 8KHz, which was regarded as plenty high enough to carry voice communications.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Yeah right @Hoppy

        "If I remember correctly, ISDN specified a 144Kb/s link, which could carry a 2 voice calls, each using 64Kb/s, and a 16Kb/s signaling channel."

        That's correct, though those 2 64k channels could carry everything, even non-voice. It's signalled via the "bearer-capability".

        "Also IIRC from my POTS training, analog phone lines used to have a filter at 8KHz, which was regarded as plenty high enough to carry voice communications."

        Well there were early very long lines which used indutances on the lines which acted as a low pass filter, but extended the reach. I don't know exactly where that filter was.

        However the actual limit was when carrier-wave systems were introduced shortly before WWII. Those stacked voice channels in frequency so a single coaxial cable could carry dozends of voice channels. So obviously you had steep filters to only give you a passband of 300-3400 Hz so they could stack more channels. (in fact there are reports about the stacking being changed during the day, so at night you actually got wider channels) Back in the days however you were likely to even get less if you had a worn out microphone capsule.

        As for digital telephone networks they decided to use a sampling rate of 8000Hz as this allowed for affordable analog filters on both sides and was well withing the technical capabilities of the 1960s. The codec they used was G.711 which could be implemented fairly easily as it could be done by having some analogue circuity and an 8-Bit A/D converter.

        ISDN actually had a special bearer capability for G.722 encoded audio which allows for frequencies of up to about 7.2 kHz to be transmitted over a single 64k channel. This caused quite some hype at radio stations, but ultimately fell into obscurity.

  3. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Mobile as the emergency option?

    It sounds reasonable.

    Plus if the cable duct is damaged beyond use POTS wouldn't work.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

      Not really - you don't get location information from mobile.

      And in the event of a power failure your plain phone will work just fine - your fancy VoIP phone, with it's reliance on a separate route, access point, switch...??? will not.

      1. ARGO

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        >you don't get location information from mobile

        Networks have always provided an area ID based on the cell the phone is connected to.

        But if you have a smartphone there's a good chance it supports "Advanced Mobile Location" - the phone sends a 999 SMS with location data taken from any location info the phone itself has available.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          >you don't get location information from mobile

          Networks have always provided an area ID based on the cell the phone is connected to.

          Area ID isn't a house though.

          and given the response from the emergency services when I have phoned them from my mobile - they get absolutely no location data at all...

      2. Mjones

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        You do get location from a mobile - if it is using AML and requires certain phone OS's (need to have IOS 11.3, Android 9) at the moment. However, the control rooms also get a triangulation data from the mobile network masts (cells) your phone is registered on - this is accurate to 100m ellipse in built up areas but less in rural - depends on the density of mobile cells.

        From the POTS perspective the control room gets the subscribers address details (via EISEC data base lookup) - which comes in very handy for premises aware / risk based mobilisation i.e. nice for them to know in a fire emergency that you live next door to the local petrol station, or live in a flat above a welders, are an old folks home etc. Can't quite see how that works in the future (unless we all have a premises specific IPv6 address and BT re-create the EISEC data base from it).

        1. Benny

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          We provide VoIP and have a direct link to BT to pass calls, and we have to provide BT with address details that match with the CLI of the line.

          We don't let customers set their own CLI, (and even if withheld to the other party, BT still see the real CLI) so emergency calls still get the correct address data.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "so emergency calls still get the correct address data"

            Until the customer moves house and forgets to update their account details.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          "You do get location from a mobile - if it is using AML and requires certain phone OS's (need to have IOS 11.3, Android 9) at the moment. However, the control rooms also get a triangulation data from the mobile network masts (cells) your phone is registered on - this is accurate to 100m ellipse in built up areas but less in rural - depends on the density of mobile cells."

          I've never had any indication from any emergency services operator that they have even the foggiest idea where I am from their control room.

          And given that control rooms are not generally all that 'local' the operator still often doesn't have a clue until I go out to motorway* junctions and then navigate them from there...

          I take the 'emergency services get your location with a massive handful of salt, at least in the UK...

          (Whether M class, or just de facto motorway)

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

            >I've never had any indication from any emergency services operator that they have even the foggiest idea where I am from their control room.

            I've had a mobile emergency call connected to the wrong geographic control room, fortunately, it was only a car fire and all the people had safely got out...

      3. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        "Not really - you don't get location information from mobile."

        That really depends on many factors. The interface towards the emergency services in Germany has ways to transmit either an address or a set of geometrical figures indicating the location. In the US, for example, virtually all phones have a way to capture a short burst of GPS data which then will be sent to the base stations in order to get a location fix for the phone which will then be transmitted.

      4. Spanners Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        Not really - you don't get location information from mobile.

        When I called 999 a few years ago, I think they asked me to confirm my location, not tell them it. I had to correct it because I was not by the fire. I was looking across an industrial estate at a burning skip!

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

      It sounds reasonable.

      It doesn't sound so reasonable when you consider mobile network coverage is only at about 85% in the UK. There's still a lot of places without a signal.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Pete4000uk

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          What they should do, is put a large box on every other street corner which contains a telephone with its own long term UPS which people can use in an emergency. We can paint it red to make it stand out and put CCTV in so anyone vandalising them get a swift caution.

          1. dnicholas Bronze badge

            Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

            Does is also double as a urinal for late night trips home?

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

              It does have an IP service, yes.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        "There's still a lot of places without a signal."

        Or a signal but not on your network.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          Or a signal but not on your network.

          You can still make emergency calls in that case, it's required by law. 112/999 will work.

    3. Gideon 1

      Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

      There won't be POTS, instead fibre to the premises with a battery backed Optical Termination Unit.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        So... around 5,600 local telephone exchanges in the UK, each, let's be generous, having around 100 cabinets, so around 560,000 geographically dispersed battery backed up units... unless they plan to run new PSU cables out to the cabinets from a central power source at each exchange... so what's the problem with POTS again?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

        "There won't be POTS, instead fibre to the premises with a battery backed Optical Termination Unit."

        You really think there'll be a 100% FTTP roll-out in that time period? And if there was how do you think it'll be paid for without dumping costs on people who didn't even ask for it and see no benefit?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mobile as the emergency option?

          "You really think there'll be a 100% FTTP roll-out in that time period? And if there was how do you think it'll be paid for without dumping costs on people who didn't even ask for it and see no benefit?"

          The simple answer is "tough" - technology has moved on and it shouldn't be held back because a few people refuse to pay a little bit more. Nor should Openreach be expected to maintain an aging, rotting copper network to satisfy a few holdouts. Once FTTH reaches 100% coverage in an area, they should be allowed to start forcibly moving people off - maybe sweeten it with grandfathered pricing.

          The more complex answer is "they actually might not have to pay more" - none of us know Openreach's costs but other large telcos have reported that FTTH networks are far cheaper to operate, maintain and repair - especially once you can abandon the copper and shift everyone over. FTTH can just as easily provide a low bandwidth cheap skate service while the person next door gets their symmetrical gigabit service.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital Fibre Future

    "..... and represents a move from an analogue to a digital, fibre led future."

    And there was me thinking the PSTN had been mostly converted to digital and fibre based from around 1985-ish.

    Silly me. Or is this more marketing fluff from clueless and witless marketing droids?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Digital Fibre Future

        Just to correct. All exchanges were not digital by the mid-1908s (speaking as a telephone exchange engineer from 1982 onwards). The last strowger exchange wasn't removed until 1995 (and then there were the cross-bar and TXE exchanges too). Don't confuse "electronic" exchanges with "digital".

        1. damiandixon

          Re: Digital Fibre Future

          Love the mistyped date:

          > All exchanges were not digital by the mid-1908s

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Digital Fibre Future

        "Yes,all exchanges were digital since the mid 1980's,"

        Sorry but that probably should be "all _new_ exchanges were digital since the mid 1980's".

        In Europe development on digital exchanges started in the early 1970s when phone companies were hyped about computer powered switches. The only country I know of that saw significant use of those were the USA. The idea was that once you have such a system running, you could just replace the analogue switching matrix with something digital, and you get a completely digital system once that was more economical.

        What they didn't take into account were the advances in microelectronics. While back in the early 1970s it was perfectly normal to have a computer with ferrite core memory, it was ridiculously outdated by the early 1980s when development was done. The result was that large parts of those switches were re-developed, based on microcomputers. Those switches then were completely digital and gradually came to service in the 2nd half of the 1980s.

        Here's a commercial for a 1970s style analogue computerized switching system:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgB0KSjC2zg

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbTGVN2VMnQ

        Ohh and here's a BT film about their development of ISDN switches

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy_6DL4haJA

        There's even a 1984 Japaneese childrens programme about I(S)DN. Here's the German dub of it:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sCuN6TE8y4

  5. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    "...where broadband rather than voice becomes the primary service"

    So what about the recent announcement about "cheaper" line rental for "customers who do not have broadband"? Everyone must now take broadband (by 2025)?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manx Telecom migrated already

    https://www.manxtelecom.com/about/media/press-releases-2016/3048-manx-telecom-continues-investment-in-fixed-line-network

    They had a few teething problems, including a noticeable slow down to consumer broadband, which seem to have been sorted.

    Alcatel backbone, which MT were a guinea pig for IIRC.

    Similarly rolling out fibre to premises soon too.

  7. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Holmes

    So what about the customers?

    If we're looking at VOIP and digital-only to the premises, who's going to pay to make my analogue interfaced cordless system a VOIP compatible one? Who is paying for my mum's new digital phone? Physical lines and infrastructure "owned" by Openreach are one thing, the millions of pounds of existing analogue hardware owned by domestic customers that would need replacing is another.

    Perhaps there'll be a ten year gradual changeover period like DTV?

    Thinking about this needs ...

    1. Jon 37

      Re: So what about the customers?

      You can already buy routers that have old-fashioned analogue telephone sockets on them. You plug your old phone in there, and the router converts the signal to VOIP for you and sends it over your Internet connection. So all you need is a new router, which isn't that expensive or that complicated.

      This is about BT getting rid of PSTN at their exchanges and on the wires to you, so they only have to terminate one (Internet) signal instead of two (Internet+PSTN) signals. This makes things cheaper for them. They don't care whether or not you continue using PSTN inside your house.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: So what about the customers?

        "So all you need is a new router, which isn't that expensive or that complicated."

        Except when you multiple it by the number of households in the UK - then it becomes ferociously expensive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So what about the customers?

          "Except when you multiple it by the number of households in the UK - then it becomes ferociously expensive."

          Offset by the savings made from switching off 5500+ pieces of 80s technology and the entire TDM based transport network. Tons of cash saved in power and cooling.

          If Openreach finally deliver a massive FTTH network, then it doesn't matter. They'll need to deploy ONTs (the FTTH "modem"), and they'll stick the phone hardware in that - as they already do for the lucky few who can get Openreach FTTP today. Even bigger savings there as they can switch off the DSLAMs too!

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: So what about the customers?

      "who's going to pay?"

      Well, on one side you have BT, well known for pinching pennies wherever they can, and on the other side you have their customers, most of whom are locked in and have no other option but to pay whatever BT charges.

      I think we can all guess who'll end up paying.

    3. Colin Bull 1
      FAIL

      Re: So what about the customers?

      "Perhaps there'll be a ten year gradual changeover period like DTV?"

      This is an ongoing ballsup. Every year or so Ofcom fuck it up. Why did I lose BBC4HD signal with no warning 3 weeks ago. Because Ofcom can piss about without a thought for the end users.

      Please take the wankers out the back and shoot them. If it is a problem for me and I am IT literate, what about the millions of other punters who cannot use Google properly.

    4. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: So what about the customers?

      "If we're looking at VOIP and digital-only to the premises, who's going to pay to make my analogue interfaced cordless system a VOIP compatible one?"

      First of all, my condolences for that piece of kit. You should sue the person who sold you that... but I digress...

      In Germany the scenario for old, so called ANIS lines (essentially people who still rent their Dialphone for an Euro a month) is simple. You install a special line interface which is essentially an ATA so you can have all your analogue goodness like Impulse dialing, static, echoes and even semi-broken signaling so your answering machine will record some noise or beeps when the caller hangs up.

      For people who want to have Internet along with ISDN, there's not much change. The most popular routers people buy in Germany already include a very decent VoIP stack you can plug your ISDN phones into (or even dialphones if you insist), and they even include a DECT base station. If you are one of those customers renting the CPE and you don't have the necessary equipment, you'll get CPE with at least one port for your dialphone. Some telcos in Germany, like Deutsche Telekom, are known for extremely shitty CPEs.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wither the 21CN?

    Hang on a minute, weren't BT ballyhooing "broadband dial tone" fifteen years ago as part of the "21CN" project? What happened to that?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wither the 21CN?

      BT (largely but not exclusively Openreach) had two largely independent flavours of 21CN, though the 21CN publicity often muxed them ip.

      One flavour was for mass market broadband via xDSL, which was (sort of) planned, rolled out, and by now is mostly superseded.

      The other flavour was "21CN Voice" (see e.g. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/28/21cn_online/ which relates to BT's first public implementations of 21CN).

      See also e.g.

      http://www.comms-dealer.com/industry-news/bt-ends-phase-1-21cn-voice-trials-network-closure

      21CN voice rollout was "suspended" shortly thereafter, and in due course, abandoned.

      Hopefully the people who f***ed up the 21CN Voice design will have moved on by now.

      So this most recent announcement is presumably 21CN Voice V2.0?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wither the 21CN?

      "What happened to that?"

      There's still a lot of the C21st still left. Plenty of time. And besides, the marketroids who thought it up have probably moved on.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    Seems to be the obvious thing to do and has been for decades.

    I'm almost at the point of suggesting that 999 call-handling should have some rule-changing, to be honest.

    Everything in my workplace is IP - from the phones on the desk, to the fax machine, to the GSM alarm systems to the SIP trunk. There are no longer any analog or ISDN lines or anything of the sort still active, because there's no need for them to be and they have disadvantages despite being actually on-the-premises still.

    Its seems only logical to plan for an IP-only future in terms of telecoms, even things like video, mobile telephony (all modern handsets do SIP, so the 4G etc. network is really only providing a data backend), etc.

    I imagine it means a lot of clutter removed from exchanges and only legacy lines having a kind of conversion equipment, which can be phased out by moving everyone to "proper" fibre connections as necessary.

    It just makes much more sense.

    The get-out-clause also disappears from BT's books - they can't just blame demand for not having cabled your area properly yet. If you have all-IP exchanges and all-IP cabinets, there's no reason that some manky old line can't support stupendous speeds even if it's shared with the rest of the village once it gets to the exchange. That won't stop them trying, though.

    I can quite easily believe now that there are households and businesses all over the country that are pretty much IP-only, internally and externally, for everything from telephony to CCTV.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Everything in my workplace is IP

      Pretty much everything is in my workplace too, which leads to such idiocy as all of the sites having a Cardiff 029 dialling code. Bear in mind that we have seven sites and only two of them are actually within the Cardiff area code. One is in Llanberis, at the foot of mount Snowdon. It does sort of confuse third-parties.

      I'm sure there would have been a way around it, but while in the past each site had a local exchange and ISDN30 bundle, much money was saved by only having (effectively) one SIP gateway and one telephone code.

      M.

      1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

        Do people still seriously rely on dialling codes to identify areas? Today we have non-geographical numbers, we have number portability. Using area codes is like trying to geolocate using nothing but an IP address.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Do people still seriously rely on dialling codes to identify areas?

          Speaking personally, if I want a local plumber and all I've got to go on is the number on the side of the van I saw parked outside next door, I'd call someone with a local (or neighbouring) area code before I called anyone with just a mobile number. Not seen this kind of sole- or small-trader use non-geographic codes; they cost real money for very little benefit unless you genuinely are a national company.

          As for my place of work, it genuinely does confuse people. If a teacher at a local school wants to talk to an education officer at their local museum and is given a direct-dial number which appears to be for a site 150 miles away, they're going to wonder if the person they are speaking to is the person they really need to speak to. I don't deal with teachers, but I do occasionally have suppliers ask "can I just check I've called the right number?"

          Yes, we do have a non-geographic too. 0300 as it happens, but you can't do direct-dial on this one.

          M.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I can quite easily believe now that there are households and businesses all over the country that are pretty much IP-only, internally and externally, for everything from telephony to CCTV."

      And a lot that aren't. But yours is so you're OK and the others don;t matter. Or did I miss something?

  10. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    will my pulse dialing rotary phone still work?

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Bad news for you... it doesn't work now. That stopped working when they deployed 21CN a few years ago (putting the timescale in context, it coincided with updating the exchanges from ADSL to ADSL2+).

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Bad news for you... it doesn't work now

        Mine does. I have a pulse-dialling rotary phone and it works just fine. Except for those pesky automated sites that ask you to "press 1 for sales" or whatever.

        Before buying it (as a birthday present some years ago), I checked by "manually dialling" 1471 using the hook switch (yes, it's possible).

        I'm told that some third-party POTS providers don't accept pulses and I have no idea about VoIP - POTS gateways, but our line certainly does.

        M.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Bad news for you... it doesn't work now

        Well it must be haunted then! admittedly when it rings i just pick the doodah up and drop it again - but i do use it occasionally to labouriously dial my mobile to locate it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Bad news for you... it doesn't work now. That stopped working when they deployed 21CN a few years ago (putting the timescale in context, it coincided with updating the exchanges from ADSL to ADSL2+)."

        It will work. 21CN for voice was effectively abandoned except for the areas where it was trialled (and GPO's finest were on the list of devices that BT had verified to work). The rest of us got put onto 21CN for broadband but the voice still comes from the same old "20C" switches.

        It'll even work if you're lucky enough to have Openreach FTTP, where your phone line is VoIP and is delivered from the ONT.

        YMMV if your phone services comes from someone else's kit - but I've seen reports from TalkTalk customers that their GPO 746 works just as well as it ever did.

  11. cb7

    Voice quality

    Almost everyone seems to have missed the fact that VoIP sounds shite or is totally unusable if broadband latency/jitter is too high - doesn't matter how many mbps you get.

    Plain old telephony (POT) on the other hand always sounds a lot clearer and without any delays compared to VoIP / mobile.

    I've got an Infinity2 line that goes at ~70Mbps down and ~19Mbps up with 15-30ms ping times typically and WhatsApp voice calls often exhibit long delays in transmission to the point where you end up talking over each other as the other party thinks you haven't said anything. Reverting to a POTs line brings refreshing reliability and clarity in comparison.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Voice quality

      Most mobile calls use an enhanced codec and sound far better than landline. Well at least in the southeast. It's quite jarring to suddenly have to make a call to a landline and I notice the drop in quality.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Voice quality

      VoIP sounds shite only if you don't bother to QoS.

      A VoIP channel is TINY in terms of bits-per-second. Sure latency will delay things. Jitter will make it wobble. But those don't tend to matter for a... what? 64Kbps stream over a 10Mbps channel? That's a HUGE amount of loss before you're affected. Latencies of 100ms on voice traffic are not noticeable and if you have more than 100ms ping to even the other side of the planet, you have bigger problems on your connection.

      But what matters is that your phone call doesn't get superseded by Fred over in the office loading his Facebook. His packets can wait, and he'll never notice. Yours can't.

      It's very easy to demonstrate. When a workplace first gets a VoIP phone in-house, warn them that it will happen. You can put in the most expensive switches in the world and massive redundant fibre connections and all sorts, and even on switchboard-only calls, it'll work. For one phone. Two phones. Three phones. But before you even get into silly numbers (say a dozen), or if there's a particular time when everyone logs in... the phones will start to distort and cut out. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at it at that point.

      At that point, everyone starts getting rubbish service and it sounds bad. So you VLAN off the voice traffic, and apply QoS to it. Now watch as you can go to 100, 200, 300 handsets and no problems. On the same networking, the same expensive (or cheap!) switch. The same Internet line.

      The problem with telesales people on VoIP is either that they don't have the IT people to know this, or they are all working from home over their home ADSL router (more common than you might think... lots of people do telesales jobs from home, dial into the switchboard from a phone they are given to plug into their router, and off they go). Nobody sets QoS properly. And it affects NOTHING else when you do it right, while making the phones all "just work". I've demonstrated this phenomenon on everything from the cheapest Netgear to the most expensive Cisco, with less than a dozen phones each time. Works fine at first, then ordinary network usage interrupts it and it fails. Apply QoS on the same switch and then you can expand enormously without issue.

      I've seen contractors who carry around Ethernet IP phones and just plug them into people's networks expecting it all to magically work... and invariably they say it works where the IT is well-managed and doesn't anywhere else they try it - even if they're the only person on the network. Because the QoS isn't automatic.

      And QoS applies not just to the local network, but to your wireless ("Airtime Fair Sharing") and outgoing packets too. Your router has to know to deal with the voice packets FIRST before it worries about your Counterstrike game. It has to respect QoS and pass it on (it'll likely be ignored by the ISP, but you never know) just the same as the switches. Your Whatsapp traffic isn't QoS'd because I think it goes out over untagged encrypted protocol which your smartphone / wireless / router doesn't understand or respect. That's why it does that.

      The number of times I've had calls FROM people selling me VoIP where I literally can't hear their call (and it's not us... at various places and times I've had analog, ISDN and SIP so we know our calls were clear).

      When we started buying local IP handsets, the problem came within a dozen and I QoS'd and four years and a hundred handsets later we're fine. When we started going down the line of SIP trunking, I did the same - made sure the traffic was VLANned, that entire VLAN was QoS'd on the switches, prioritised on the router, firewall and wireless points. Made sure that the outgoing SIP ports were forced to max priority so they retained that QoS when they went out to our ISP, etc. Literally never had a problem, even with user's maxing out the connection on an hourly basis.

      Voice traffic doesn't care about bandwidth and retransmission, like other technologies. TCP will just "try again" so fast that you'll never notice a problem. But VoIP needs to be jumping the queue for every tiny little packet it sends because it NEVER tries to send it again, it's already too late by then. If it can't jump the queue - from the phone to the network to the switch to the firewall to the router to the Internet - then it will be bad. If it can jump the queue, it's literally so miniscule that nothing else will notice or care. The actual bandwidth it consumes is pathetic.

      To be honest, even "wireless" IP phones have more problems than cabled ones. Because you can't stop someone on the same channel but another SSID or just plain interference from "jumping the queue" and holding up the voice traffic.

      If you are expecting VoIP and you're not in control of QoS... you're on your own. It might work, it might not. If you are MANAGING VoIP - apply QoS from day one on everything in the path. Then, quite literally, you can run a entire company switchboard from a dodgy old ADSL line.

      As an aside, we abandoned all our analog and ISDN lines last year, after many years of waiting for approval to do so. They were more likely to provide poor performance (everything from rain affecting the cables, to things literally falling off the telegraph poles) and we had more faults on ISDN than I care to remember. We retain one emergency line only so we can dial 999 if the system goes off. But everything else is entirely SIP. I haven't had a complaint about call quality for a year.

    4. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Voice quality

      There are some providers insisting on G.729, that's when you get shite voice quality.

      Any semi-decent one will give you G.711 which is (except for a bit more latency) indistinguishable from ISDN. However even the latency should be much lower than 150 ms end to end. If it's not you or your ISP are doing something seriously wrong. Typical problems include not traffic shaping the Uplink and not prioriticing UDP.

      Any decent telephony provider will tollerate no more than a single packet being dropped per 10 minute telephone call.

  12. Franco Silver badge

    BT have finally realised the value of their copper on the scrap metal market, as predicted by El Reg!

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/22/bt_copper_cable_theft/

  13. TRT Silver badge

    Next thing you know...

    they'll be culling off all the FM radio transmitters in favour of DAB!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Next thing you know...

      My DAB comes from transmitter that is much closer than the FM transmitter. I use DAB to get the "now playing" data from Classic FM - except that often they just have a line saying "go to our web site".

      Radio 4 comes from FM as it is a more reliable signal. The DAB Classic FM often burbles or goes off for periods.

      No incentive to lose FM here.

    2. Richard Jones 1

      Re: Next thing you know...

      Ah DAB, that stands for Diabolically Awful Broadcasting I believe.

    3. jonfr

      Re: Next thing you know...

      That is going to happen in the end. Norway has shut down most of its fm broadcasting system already in favour of DAB+ broadcasting.

      BBC seems to be against turning off fm transmitter network.

      http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-43458695

      The thing about DAB+ is that they use VHF (175 - 233Mhz) and that needs stronger transmitters to give good coverage. FM is at 87,5 - 108.0Mhz.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see people are highlighting 999 calls, fear not, by the time this is done there won't be any police etc.. left due to cuts.

    1. Alister Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I see people are highlighting 999 calls, fear not, by the time this is done there won't be any police etc.. left due to cuts.

      More immediately, the 999 services are going to be moving from TETRA radios to 4G on EE, so even if you could call the emergency services without a mobile signal, the controllers won't be able to talk to the fire engines or ambulances...

  15. ForthIsNotDead
    Unhappy

    Just imagine...

    You and your lovely wife are out for a romantic long-weekend in the Scottish Highlands. It's been years since you had any quality time together, what with bringing up the kids and working all the hours that God sends. But hey, the kids are older now, and the grandparents are delighted to spend a little time with their grandchildren, so this trip is just the ticket.

    The weather, however is terrible. Gale-force winds and punishing, driving rain, and the late hour are doing their best to take the shine off the occasion, but both your spirits remain high. It's only another mile to the holiday cottage that you've rented, so there's no way you're stopping now.

    On the B874, between Janetstown and Shebster, with the wipers on maximum, peering through a semi-fogged screen, you hit the brakes hard when you suddenly notice an old broken farm trailer, abandoned at the side of the road. It's clearly been there for years. The front of the trailer is parked well enough, but the back end is hanging out over the verge, into the road.

    Screeching tires, a terrifying smashing sound, sparks, and then... Black.

    You awake goodness knows how many minutes later. Or was it hours? A nasty cut on your head has already started to congeal. It hurts, but you'll be alright. You look to the passenger side.

    "Are you alright Sarah?"

    "Sarah?"

    "Sarah, can you hear me? Are you okay?"

    Silence.

    Gently, you turn her head towards you. The left side of her head is smashed in. Eye socket gone. Massive blood-loss. The trailer bed had come through the windscreen and... well, you know the rest.

    You check her pulse. Yes! She's alive. Okay. Hold it together. It's important not to panic. You know where you are because you're only a mile away from the house and you have the address in your wallet.

    You reach for your mobile phone. 999.

    Nothing happens.

    Shit! No signal.

    Now what? You look around for lights. There must be a house somewhere near. It's only 9pm. Somebody will still be up.

    Nothing.

    "There's nothing for it", you say to yourself. "I'm going to have to get to the cottage and raise the alarm myself".

    You set out into the howling wind, leaving the hazard warning lights on.

    After about 15 minutes you reach the cottage. Well, presumably this is the right cottage. You slip the key into the lock. The lock turns! Yes! Stepping into the hall you find the lightswitch and turn on the hallway light. Nothing. Damn it. There must be a power cut.

    Using the light on your mobile you find the phone on an old-fashioned three-legged corner-table just behind the living room door.

    You pick up the phone. Wait for the dial tone.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    You check the phone socket on the wall. It's one of those new VOIP RJ45 phone sockets, and right next to it, under the phone, on the floor is the router, plugged neatly into the phone and a nearby mains socket.

    And there's a power-cut.

    That's when you realise. You are alone. Totally alone. The only thing that can now possibly keep your wife alive, is you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just imagine...

      People downvoted that post. Let me give you a true story:

      In Donegal back in the late 1970s, many of their local exchanges were still manual. You picked up a phone, waited for the operator to answer, and asked for the number you needed. The operator in rural areas went home in the evenings, there was no phone service until the following morning. A friend of ours woke in the small hours to find her husband in distress, he was having a heart attack. She was 8 months pregnant, and had no way to call for help. She struggled into the car and went for the doctor, but by the time they returned her husband was dead. Without working emergency phone service she not only couldn't send for help, she couldn't even stay with her husband to comfort him while help might have arrived.

      Automatic exchanges with 5- or 6-nines reliability have removed that nightmare from rural lives. Does anyone serioulsy think that VoIP can come even close to offering that sort of reliability??

    2. King Jack
      Thumb Up

      Re: Just imagine...

      Come on man, you can't leave it there. I want more. The novel / screenplay you are writing is great. When is the next chapter..... Does Sarah live or die? I gotts ta know.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Just imagine...

        The front door slams open behind you. You think it's the wind, and you turn round, reaching out to shut it again against the raging storm, when silhouetted against the lighting illuminated solid rain downpour, the outline of Sarah. But not the Sarah you knew, this one is dressed in a sopping, torn dress, head lolling on one side, vacant staring look in her one remaining eye. You take a step forwards, but then recoil as she raises both arms and shuffles forwards, letting out a dull moan, her teeth gnashing together in a slow, biting, chewing motion... Are those words she's trying to form? "Brainnnnzzzzzz...."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just imagine...

      ForthIsNotDead,

      You have just won the 'Internet' for the most artistic & longwinded way to make a point. :)

      Totally agree with the point.

      Once again BT promises the 'World' and no doubt will deliver a 'Plastic Glow in the Dark' World Globe, 5 years late and at 3 times the price ....... UNLESS BT are 'implying' that there will be 100% mobile coverage 'before' this is delivered.

    4. Andy Livingstone

      No extra charge for spooky stories?

      Really??

  16. Martin an gof Silver badge

    ISDN?

    We still make occasional use of ISDN - it "just works" when the local radio station comes around, in a way that their IP-based WiFi or 4G OB system doesn't when two thousand people are connected to the same AP / mast. We once tried ISDN over IP. It "just didn't work".

    I suppose if we upgrade and allow them access to our wired network it would be ok...

    M.

  17. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    "BT killed my family"

    I don't know how they will respond when the change inevitably results in death which would likely have not occurred if they had stuck with what we have.

    I imagine this might also be in the minds of those who have to approve the change.

    With the issue being one of public safety I am inclined to think the risks outweigh the benefits. Failure modes are easy enough to see so the onus is on them to convince us they are not a problem or are an acceptable price to pay.

  18. Individual #6/42
    Black Helicopters

    Does anyone know

    If my (backup iun case of power-cut) battery powered dial up modem will work over a VOIP connection?

  19. Anonymous Noel Coward

    So what happens to people on broadband?

    Is it a case of "lol, sucks to be you, huh?" from BT or do they delusionally believe that everyone will be FTTP by that point?

  20. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This will do wonders for BT's number of complaints. Those with bad/or no internet won't be able to phone BT to complain about it.

  21. ' DROP TABLE users;

    Landline?

    How quaint

  22. GlenP Silver badge

    I have a strong suspicion this will go the same way as the DAB switchover. It'll keep being put back until some arbitrary target such as "90% of households are using VOIP phones" is reached, which will be never.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      I have a strong suspicion this will go the same way as the DAB switchover

      And I know I'm late to this, but the same argument applies, to an extent. It's a solution in search of a problem. DAB is great an' all, but the 20MHz (88 - 108) of VHF that would be freed up by switching off all FM transmissions is not a fat lot of good for anything except broadcast radio. I suppose you could convert it to DAB :-)

      This may be one of the reasons LW persists. The 140kHz or so of spectrum (150 - 290?) used for broadcast ain't much good for anything else, and in fact excels at national-scale broadcasting.

      And as for that aerial alongside the M5 at Droitwich. Wow. If LW ever is switched off, I hope they list that structure so that it's saved for the sheer history. Just out of interest - I was looking for the thing just now on Google Streetview, and it almost seems as if they've tried to blank it out. It's visible in the distance in some views, but as you get closer it's more and more difficult to see. Maybe it was misty that day; it's visible from different angles.

      M.

  23. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Land line usage?

    Our local emergency planning people actually still encourage people to have a "land line," ignoring the reality that a significant number of homes either have had nothing but cel phones for years, or have a "home phone" provided as part of their cable or Internet service.

    If emergency response is your priority the money is better spent on a robust and redundant wireless network.

    Besides, we're paying $95 CDN for Internet and home phone, and another $90 for wireless service. There's no way I'm spending another $60 a month for POTS.

  24. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Mushroom

    999 or war?

    AFAICR selected large houses in the UK were pre-wired with multiple phone lines in case of a nuclear war. The idea was that the houses would become seats of regional government in whatever was left of the country. Once BT have stolen removed all the copper this plan is defunct. No doubt that any adversary will also have hacked the VOIP network leaving us totally screwed.

    This is not cheerful news.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Game

    1. tip pc Bronze badge

      Re: 999 or war?

      The PON fibre network is arguably less susceptible to emp from nuclear attack than the copper network.

      Search wiki for emergency communications network for details of war comms that went into large houses.

  25. Alan Mackenzie
    FAIL

    Who's counting carbon dioxide emissions?

    Yes, I've been through this process already, in Germany.

    When I last changed my setup, I was informed that VOIP was all that was available. That means that tens of millions of households have to leave routers uselessly burning electricity 24 hours a day, on the off-chance somebody might call in the next few minutes. That must be quite a few power stations worth of juice.

    And then there's the degradation in setting up. Previously, you just had to buy a handset, plug it into the wall, and it worked. Now you've got to _configure_ something, namely a router. No problem for me, but it "earns" the telecom compainies a fair bit from those who can't do it themselves. And those handsets weren't, in the main, crackable over the telephone network. Who'd say the same about their router, these days?

  26. Peter Prof Fox

    Brittle and silently hackable.

    Hey, let's put micro electronics in a box with wires wandering outside. This box is part of BTs line. If a nasty spike comes in at the moment it might fry a router or possibly a phone handset. In the future you're waiting for Bombay to add you to some invisible queue.

    Now there's an internet box with all of the appeal and security track-record of IoT. Made in China and up-datable down the wire.

  27. Simon Rockman

    Not just POTS

    A couple of my phones are not just POTS and wired, They are pulse dial. Proper rotating dials. Mostly for incoming calls but I do still dial out on them occasionally to see if the 1891 technology still works.

  28. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    There is a company in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada that has SUCCESSFULLY entangled trapped Xenon atoms over 100 km distances AND have been able to both READ (i.e. not destroy the coherence!) of the atom's properties AND set them anew WITHOUT first having to supercool them down to near ZERO degrees Kelvin! ---It's all done at Room Temperature, so this discovery is a VERY VERY BIG DEAL for telecom systems!

    This means a COMPLETE REPLACEMENT for fibre optic AND POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) phones, internet connections, ISDN lines and dial-up services!

    And since Xenon atoms can be "switched on and off" (i.e. specific properties set and read") at PETAHERTZ speeds, overall bandwidth on outgoing and incoming data streams will be in the MANY HUNDREDS OF TERABYTES PER SECOND!!!!

    YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!!!!

    Copper Wire and Fibre Optic Cable is Now Dead! Long Live Copper and Glass!

  29. Barrie Shepherd

    Australia is currently ripping out the copper and it's not a smooth process. Customers wanting resilient service have to buy a PSU/battery back up unit https://www1.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/what-happens-in-a-power-blackout.html

    PSU has sealed lead acid batteries some of which now need replacing as they were bought via the lowest bidder system - much debate about who should pay.

    https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/network-technology/fibre-to-the-premises-explained-fttp.html

  30. Jason Hindle

    Seems inevitable

    But I have a hard time believing IP telephony will be as robust the the system it replaces.

  31. JBowler

    Gee, yiou brits are so backward

    This happened years ago in the US. Of course no one told any of us, but then concepts like "transparency" and "an explanation of why you can't send faxes" are so alien to us.

    Asking BT, which, remember, Thatcher effectively castrated, to behave as a semi-charity is ridiculous (as in the ob-comments, not the article). That was what Thatcher intended of course, but she is a total whatever.

    BT already is routing all calls via VoIP; you cannot tell, I cannot tell, Scottie canne tell, it's just a fact.

    "999" calls depend solely on accurately identifying the point of origin. You can do this with GPS, you can do it with cell tower triangulation, you can do it by simply being told where the originating device is located.

    You CANNOT do it by believing in Thatcher, or whatever it is you guys believe in; I can't seriously believe you actually believe in the life giving properties of copper buried in the ground.

    John Bowler

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gee, yiou brits are so backward

      Gee you yanks are so iggerant.

      BT already is routing all calls via VoIP;

      No, it isn't

      accurately identifying the point of origin. You can do this with ... cell tower triangulation

      Not to within 10m you can't.

      I can't seriously believe you actually believe in the life giving properties of copper buried in the ground.

      Passive circuits are always going to be more reliable than active ones. KISS principle.

      As for Thatcher, the country that elected The Donald is in no position to be making comments on anyone else's political choices.

  32. herman Silver badge

    So what happened to ISDN (Innovation Subscribers Don't Need) and ATM (No not a bank machine)? Those were digital successors to PSTN too...

  33. Herby Silver badge

    Elevators?

    I wonder what the proper procedure for elevator phones is. My parents house has a small (two story) elevator, and it has a nice phone inside the elevator car. There is NO WAY I'm going to have anything other that a proper POTS line serving the phone. If power goes out (the elevator gets stuck), you will need to summon help to get "rescued". My 99 year old mom can easily reach for the phone and call for help. A VoIP phone WILL NOT DO! I refuse to put one in for this service. I have my doubts about others in this circumstance would wither.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Elevators?

      "There is NO WAY I'm going to have anything other that a proper POTS line serving the phone. "

      If the Australian model is anything to go by you will not have an option to retain the central battery POTS line - the equipment will just not exist. The Australian NBN (BT Openreach equivalent) propose that in addition to a VoIP line, with local back up battery, you also need an additional 3/4G mobile interface to overcome problems should the intermediate carrier equipment fail. All this adds cost for lift owners / operators and of course assumes you are in a mobile phone coverage area!

      A simple description with photos at https://mrtelco.com/blog/nbn-lift-phone-emergency

  34. MooseMonkey

    No need to worry about 999 calls....

    As soon as the emergency services are moved from AIRWAVE to standard mobile networks, they won't be able to be contacted anyway.

  35. Timmy B Silver badge

    We use BT for our internet. We lose our internet connection perhaps once every couple of months for anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours. We lose our phone line perhaps once every couple of years. We have two elderly people at home with careline and I have a separate hard wired phone in case of emergencies (ignores the DECT system). If we get a loss of internet after the move to IP and the perfect storm happens and we require emergency cover and worse still we aren't at home and the careline is needed, what happens?

    I understand the whole "separate power" idea but BT don't have an internet capability that is as good as their telephone one. I would hate to trust emergency calls to who many people regard as not great at internet / IP.

    Sadly as they are 92 and 94, I don't think they will be around when the switch happens but others will be in the same boat.

  36. Chezstar

    Dear UK,

    Please don't fuck the FTTP rollout up.

    Sincerely,

    Australia.

  37. Bob.

    Aiding Resilience

    Additional BBCPs (Battery-backed Communication Points) could be the ideal answer.

    It's a bit of a mouthful. Some people know them as 'Telephone Boxes'

  38. Nick 53
    WTF?

    Is it just me?

    When BT CEO Gavin Patterson was quoted as saying “We already serve many thousands of customers in businesses using IP, our goal is by 2025 all of our voice customers will be served using an IP with a premises solution and will migrate off the traditional telephony platform.” owing to use of the word 'businesses' many of us thought this meant the demise of ISDN, which given the shift to VoIP makes sense, all be it perhaps a little later than one might have expected. What seems to have changed in this story is that the term 'all of our customers' appears to include consumers. If that's the case, we're to believe that over the next six and a half years, Openreach is going to change out its entire base of (say) 22M analogue lines with VoIP and churn the WLR base. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but is there anyone left in BT that understands how big a job that is? It's not just about 999 calls during power failure. Anything with a modem in will need replacing - PDQ, alarms, sensors etc - there must be millions of them. Oh and by the way, the small matter of getting on for 22M installations of VoIP widgets - or is BT going to come up with a foolproof self-install solution?

  39. Terminator666

    What about people who don't have or don't want the internet in any way, shape, or form?

  40. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Devil

    Of course line rental will go up

    Because "we're providing a better service now". Naturally.

  41. Barrie Shepherd

    I use VoIP services from 3 VSPs (2 in Australia and one in UK) in addition to my UK POTS line. I don't understand those saying voice quality on VoIP is worse than POTS what they have probably experienced is the 'VoIP' solution they get from the likes of WhatsAPP and SKYPE which don't emulate a true VoIP connection..

    My understanding is that in a POTS call only the last leg (exchange to subscriber house) is true POTS all the intermediate switching and routing is VoIP. I'm pretty satisfied with my VoIP connections they sound better than the POTS, as there are no crackles and clicks and, as I run my own modest Raspberry Pi VoIP server, I benefit from lots of Value Added Features and the ability to manage my own least cost routing.

    I only ask that in whatever final solution BT propose they don't lock it down to their own 'approved' equipment like some Australian ISPs have done with their National Broadband Network VoIP services.

    The UK should adopt a standard VoIP solution AND customers should be allowed to have their login credentials so they can connect to the widest possible selection of terminal equipment. With the right thinking the solution could also provide a 'number for life' meaning when you move home you don't have to change your telephone number.

    What we don't want is BT repeating the telephone socket fiasco, inventing a completely new connection plug just to frustrate people wanting to do their own house wiring. Most of the world manages reasonably well with the RJ series of connectors. (yes I understand the 'bell wire' ring detect capacitor and anti tinkle but that could have been handled in a RJ solution.)

    The real challenges are provision of services at distant locations, where no internet reaches, and solutions for the probable thousands of legacy POTS installations for base alarms, emergency alerts emergency phones and the like. Education is essential as people will need to understand that the old way of providing extensions phones at home by plugging them in parallel won't work for VoIP unless the VoIP modem provides a POTS simulated connection.

  42. Havin_it

    PCI DSS and POS card terminals

    At the moment (as far as I understand it) there is a sizeable difference in the compliance burden for PCI DSS between credit-card terminals that connect via dialup vs over the internet. To wit, terminal on dialup = can just self-certify; terminal over IP = have to get whole network audited regularly.

    Doesn't moving to VoIP mean then that every bugger'll have to get audits done? Or will the exemption apply to it as well? Penny-pinching minds demand to know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PCI DSS and POS card terminals

      "To wit, terminal on dialup = can just self-certify; terminal over IP = have to get whole network audited regularly."

      Not a PCI expert but my dad owns a small business with single card terminal. As far as I know, all he needs to do to keep the card processor happy is let them do a portscan of his WAN IP every so often. He moved because he changed processor and apparently it's cheaper to do it over IP now.

      He only has a simple card terminal though, not attached to a till or a PC, doesn't store any personal data, etc. I would imagine it's more stringent if you do any of that. Given that the comms between terminal and bank should be encrypted, and the firmware on the terminal should be locked down, I'm not sure why it needs any more hassle than that.

  43. Spanners Silver badge
    Alert

    Who has a land line at home nowadays?

    I would suspect that users of this site are more likely than average to have no "land line" anyway.

    Virgin does a package where people get broadband only - no phone and no Virgin TV. I had it before I moved last year. When I moved, I got Vodafone. I get a land line for this but there is nothing on the statement specifically marked line rental. I don't even know what the number is. Neither do my friends or family. I suppose I could use it if there was an emergency and my, my wife and son's mobiles were not working but it would be a last resort.

    1. Roger Mew

      Re: Who has a land line at home nowadays?

      You are soo lucky, a good mobile system that you can connect several desktops and have Youtube downloads all at the same time!! What the phuk is a mobile, they do not work here, We are lucky with outh our 2.0 mbs down and 600 up internet and should that be Voiped then there will be a lot less than that, approx 400 up and about 1.6 down so having a phone call will seriously disrupt your internet!

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Who has a land line at home nowadays?

      > I got Vodafone. I get a land line for this but there is nothing on the statement specifically marked line rental. I don't even know what the number is.

      Ofcom ruled the other year that line rental had to be included in the cost of home broadband, so if you look at the details of your service agreement, you will find that your standard month subscription includes line rental.

      There will be a phone number associated with your line, you will need it if you wish to switch to another ISP...

  44. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Solution for POTS

    I may have misunderstood, but I didn't understand that they wanted simply to provide a single Ethernet socket and leave it up to you to work out how to use it. Isn't the idea to supply a "POTS converter" to every premises? In other words, standard analogue equipment will connect to this in-house device which does all the conversion for you.

    M.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Solution for POTS

      "Isn't the idea to supply a "POTS converter" to every premises? In other words, standard analogue equipment will connect to this in-house device which does all the conversion for you."

      I believe that will be the end solution BUT the equipment 'at your end of the line' will require you to provide power and if you want resilience from mains failure an associated battery back up unit. The difficulty for emergency phones,and the like, is that the intermediate street equipment, that delivers the Ethernet stream, also requires power, which will have limited reserve battery and therefore could also run out of power.

      So in addition to BT having a large very resilient power supply at the exchange location every telephone user will require an additional power supply at their home. As another poster said how green is that?

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Solution for POTS

        So in addition to BT having a large very resilient power supply at the exchange location every telephone user will require an additional power supply at their home. As another poster said how green is that?

        Good point, and a standard phone will work just lovely with 50V line current, which is both battery and generator-backed at the exchange, but... but I already have my modem on a UPS, alongside my DECT base station. It sort of helps when there is a power cut (and for semi-rural Wales we get more than you might expect) and you need to consult the website of Western Power to see a: if they already know about it and b: what the contact number is if they don't.

        M.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          electricity supply down? the contact number is 105

          "consult the website of [electricity network operator] to see a: if they already know about it and b: what the contact number is if they don't."

          As of a year or three ago, the contact number is 105, regardless of which major network operator is responsible for your electricity supply.

          Hth.

  45. Naughtyhorse

    A lot of people are posting here about powering devices over copper....

    this will not be as much of an issue as you think. with the loss of leased lines most of the countries power distribution grid loses intertripping, so there wont be any power anywhere. :-)

    only serious

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ermmm ...

    Am I missing something? what happens to people - like my 93 year old mother in law - who don't have/want broadband?

  47. MrZoolook

    So VOIP 'is' a viable choice in an emergency?

    Pretty much what the title says.

    VOIP services always tell us that we shouldn't rely on them in an emergency. Now BT are effectively saying they are?

    Which is it?

  48. Dave_P

    This aint gonna happen.

    They simply haven't got the staff to convert the existing exchange digital data onto VoIP switches. That isn't an easy or simple process.

  49. russmichaels

    What this also means is that broadband goes down, so will your phone, so make sure you have credit on your mobile and a signal so you can call your provider to tell them its down.

  50. gnarlymarley

    internet outage preventing you from calling your ISP?

    Funny how when the internet goes does, the ISP no longer gets calls about their internet outages. And yes, my VOIP phone has been affected a few times about this. Good think I have a POTS landline so I can continue to call them when it did go down.

  51. jonfr

    Everything goes offline one day

    One day, one quiet day everything is going to go offline. The reason for this sudden offline is going to be a solar flare or solar flares. The human race isn't going to be lucky all the time in this regard. While devices like mobile phones and such are going to work if they get power (solar panels if people have them) are going to continue to work (if they didn't burn out), it is clear that large scale power networks are not going to do so.

    This means that VoIP fixed connections are also going to go down. Because the power grid fluctuations are going to burn everything down. The situation is going to get worse when it comes to large power stations that supply cities and countries with power.

    Last one large solar outbreak was in 2012, the human race got lucky that time around, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_2012

    That was not the case in 1859, but the age of technology had barley started at that time, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

    The POTS angle on this that under this type of situation is that all the copper phone lines are going to catch fire once this large type of solar storm hits the Earth (due to magnetic currents creating electric current in the phone line copper).

    Warning is going to be issued allowing for some protection of infrastructure (government, military, health care, police), but on large scale this is going to mean that cities are going to be out of power for weeks and even months and that might even apply to some countries in the world. How bad this is going to hit depends on factors and magnitude of the solar system in question.

    People can forget flying anything or anywhere once this happens. Going on a ship might be a possibly (maybe).

    The internet? That is going to take months to restore since all the hard drives are going to be fried and have to replaced and everything has to be rebuilt from scratch. Most backups won't survive this type of event.

  52. Roger Mew

    Firstly, without a modem you will not be able to make calls. So no electric, no call. Now much of the UK has no mobile phone coverage, so no mobile no call thats 2 out of 2, now in the event of a house fire you will probably have no electric, please place about 2 litres of oil in each room to help keep the fire going as long as possible. We have already had this "discussion" here in france, Aman was bedridden and needed the ambulance, the idiot had previously had his telephone connected to the VOIP system, There was a power cut, his breathing machine went off, his VOIP went off, luckily not for too long. I managed to get his phone back onto the PSTN but he got very annoyed with me because of that. I could not explain that he nearly died because of it. So if you go for a VOIP system and you have no mobile do ensure the mobile works and preferably have 2 on different systems.

    PS I now also know of 2 house fires also that were not put out, the houses concerned being not put out and totally destroyed!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Openreach also plans to pass three million homes and businesses with fibre-to-the-premise by 2020." 'Pass' sounds about right, stick a bit of fibre in the ground and don't serve any customers. Openretch by name, Openretch by nature.

  54. MBD1

    The end of Fax and some NHS services

    Fax effectively drives many worthwhile services across the NHS. Whether it should or not is a sensible question, but the systems work. (unlike some implemented by BT as part of NPfIT)

    I understand that Fax & VoIP are generally incompatible - so is this a suicide pact by senior BT execs who no longer NHS treatment? - just please don't take the rest of us with you!

  55. dawbthompson388
    Thumb Up

    Is O8OO O98 89O6 BT Technical Support Phone Number?

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