BAPCO 2021 speaker interview: change is coming

Ahead of his presentation at the annual BAPCO Conference & Exhibition next week, Openreach industry engagement manager, John Livermore, discusses the imminent move from analogue to digital telephony.

Can you describe what you’ll be talking about during your presentation at BAPCO 2021. Why is it an important topic?

I’ll be discussing the switch-off of the PSTN network taking place at the end of 2025, and the steps which need to be taken before this date. This is to make sure that everyone understands what they need to do, in order to ensure their telephony services are not interrupted by the move from analogue to digital [‘All IP’].

What do you see as being the big issues and challenges for the sector over the next five years?

The move to All IP with touch all of our lives, whether at home, in our offices or for our customers and clients. Critical national infrastructure organisations [such as the emergency services] also need to make sure their telemetry services move to digital. The telecare and alarm industries will likewise be greatly impacted.

At the same time, power will also become a big issue. Customers may need to seek their own UPS supplies to keep services working in power outage situations.

What will be the most transformative development over the next five years in terms of the technology? What will that mean for user operations, as well as the broader market?

From our perspective, a big development will be Openreach rolling out full fibre to 25 million premises by 2026. It will be working with communications providers to move their customers to All IP digital services.

This will be done by providers according to their own timescales, which may not match their competitors in the same geographic areas. That means that consumers, as well as businesses and industry, all need to be ready for when their provider says that they will be moving their lines to All IP.

What opportunities do you see for the sector in the current environment? What big changes would you like to see in the world of UK public safety communications?

There will be major improvements to the telephony network, with fibre bringing better broadband speeds and the ability to transmit more data. This opens up the Internet of Things, biometrics and many other applications.

It does however also bring challenges to vulnerable customers who need to move telecare equipment or other lifeline devices from the wall socket to a router supplied by their communications provider.

What key messages or take-home points would you like people to get from your session? What will be most useful to them from a practical point of view?

The first would be to do an audit of your current telephony services and find out if your existing equipment will work when it has to connect through a router after migration to All IP. Secondly, check how your services will work when you need to provide your own backup power to the router. Finally, keep track of the All IP programme through industry web sites, such as Openreach.

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