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Fibre Optic Switch Over Day (FSO)

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Katie Bush
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Hi all,

I don't really know who this will affect, but it seems that BT are finally turning off their 'copper wire' telephone and broadband service. For my area this will be 24th April 2020, and it raises an interesting question, or two. Chiefly, will our 'old' dial telephones still work afterwards?

One answer that came in from the states suggests that, if you have "Fibre Into Dwelling" then no, they won't, but if you have "Copper Into Dwelling" then yes they will.

It would seem likely that incoming calls would be unaffected by the switchover, but there is some doubt over the future viability of Loop Disconnect (LD) dialling.

Does anyone else have any information regarding 'FSO'? i.e. has your area already had FSO, and do you have an LD telephone that still works?

As for me, I actually have an old style BT "2+8" private automatic switchboard, which, apparently, can convert LD dialling pulses into DTMF tones. It seems that this is one solution, and for those less fortunate, you can buy a simple DTMF tone generator keypad which can be placed onto the telephone's mouthpiece to much the same effect.

As yet, I'm not clear on what FSO will mean for our older phones, and would welcome anyone else' feedback/experience.

Marion

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Topic starter Posted : 10/02/2020 11:11 pm
Cathovisor
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There are some units that can be used to turn a dial phone into one that generates DTMF tones. The first is the venerable Rotatone, which sits inside the phone and converts the pulses into an appropriate tone burst.

There are also some open source projects, one of which is here.

It's funny, but only today I was discussing this with my brother who has just switched from BT to Sky; I wanted to know if his VDSL line would still work with an LD phone but as he switched three weeks ago, I've missed out on testing. At the moment, I am suffering from "loyalty taxation" and are paying BT £55/month for copper broadband and landline, which I need to address.

I would certainly be very disappointed if I lose my LD phone functionality - for me anyway, the ability to use LD phones as intended is far more important than faster data.

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Posted : 10/02/2020 11:39 pm
Nuvistor
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Didn’t realise the switch off is so soon, no idea on the phone compatibility. My daughter lives in a small country village and fibre as been installed to the pole near her premises but she is still on copper but not with BT.

I think she was approached for an upgrade but decided to stay on the very slow copper. Her reason was the children spend too much time on the internet and a slow speed helps them to do other things.

Frank

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Posted : 10/02/2020 11:42 pm
Katie Bush
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Posted by: @cathovisor

It's funny, but only today I was discussing this with my brother who has just switched from BT to Sky; I wanted to know if his VDSL line would still work with an LD phone but as he switched three weeks ago, I've missed out on testing. At the moment, I am suffering from "loyalty taxation" and are paying BT £55/month for copper broadband and landline, which I need to address.

I would certainly be very disappointed if I lose my LD phone functionality - for me anyway, the ability to use LD phones as intended is far more important than faster data.

My guess would be that it will come down to BT deciding whether they consider the number of LD phones still in use would justify their designing a signalling system that can handle LD pulses, and convert them to DTMF. Somehow, I rather doubt it, but on the other hand, there are, or were, some services where LD was desirable, less so today I'd assume, but in my university hall of residence, students quickly cottoned onto DTMF tone generator pads as a means to defeat the call metering system within the payphones. The owners, equally quickly, cottoned on to what was going on, and requested from BT that the DEL into the building would only support LD. Needless to say, I was able to defeat that too! But, I'd guess there are still some payphones in service, and potentially, mandatory for safety reasons?

I agree though, I'd rather have the LD connection than faster data speeds - speeds that I can't even get close to using as it is, let alone needing faster.

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Topic starter Posted : 11/02/2020 12:17 am
Katie Bush
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Posted by: @nuvistor

Didn’t realise the switch off is so soon, no idea on the phone compatibility. My daughter lives in a small country village and fibre as been installed to the pole near her premises but she is still on copper but not with BT.

For what it's worth, I hadn't even realised it was going to happen at all! Until I got the notice from BT, and my brand spanking new smart hub. I too live in a small village, and as it happens, we will still be copper as far as the roadside cabinet (about half a mile by road - or 100 yards across the field), so I'll still have half a mile of copper to play with!

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Topic starter Posted : 11/02/2020 12:24 am
Nuvistor
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I have not bothered with FTTC, I live in an urban environment and my cabinet is about half a mile away, exchange about a mile. My ADSL+ speed is around 10/1Mb/s, going to FTTC would increase it to around 24/?, not sure about uplink. It’s not worth it, the ADSL2 speed does all I need and is generally very reliable, had about 4 or 5 short outages in the last 12 years.

No doubt they will get around to shutting this copper down at some point.

Frank

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Posted : 11/02/2020 1:46 am
Marconi_MPT4
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Ah! I thought something was afoot when my ISP recently started to encourage a switch over to fibre, all at much greater cost! Nothing in the communication suggested that copper wire telephone and broadband would be withdrawn. Quite happy with ADSL2 speed at the moment.

I did some digging and found an update on this situation at ISPreview. Link to article 'BT to Propose Full Fibre Move and Copper Switch Off by 2027' here

https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php

It does appear the proposed copper switch off plan is largely related to Openreach’s own network. However, negotiations with the government and UK ISPs is about a new six point plan, which could see the last of their old copper phone lines being switched off by 2027; if everyone agrees.

Rich

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Posted : 12/02/2020 6:00 pm
Katie Bush
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Posted by: @marconi_mpt4

Ah! I thought something was afoot when my ISP recently started to encourage a switch over to fibre, all at much greater cost! Nothing in the communication suggested that copper wire telephone and broadband would be withdrawn. Quite happy with ADSL2 speed at the moment.

Rich

Hi Rich,

Indeed so, I was being constantly bombarded by BT to switch to fibre, but I resisted the move because of the extra cost (as if £70 a month already isn't enough for them). So now, the boot is on the other foot, insofar as they are switching me over (because they're discontinuing copper in my area) at no extra cost to me, so I'll get fibre at the same price I was paying for copper. I'd suggest that anyone else in the same situation might do the same thing, and may also get the same deal, but that may vary from one ISP to another.

Like you, I find my existing broadband is more than adequate for my needs, and can stream 1080 video without buffering. That's the most I need from it anyway so why change? But, I suspect there might be other incentives for the service providers to force the switch, one being the ever increasing number of 'hot-spots'. Have you ever noticed how Wi-Fi routers have grown ever more powerful, in terms of range/area coverage? By making as many routers as possible into hot-spots, the service providers can tempt users to move over to them and "enjoy the greater freedom of more hot-spots than our rivals". By moving to fibre, a single router will handle infinitely more traffic with less degradation in performance. Or I may be spouting sphericals?

Given that BT/Openreach own the telephone network, unless you live the area covered by Kingston Communication ("KC"), I don't really see how anyone can avoid the eventual complete cessation of copper. Are there any other privately owned telecoms network companies, aside from"KC"?

Marion

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Topic starter Posted : 13/02/2020 9:47 pm
hamid_1
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I had Fibre To The Cabinet "FTTC" broadband several years ago (2013 in fact). I used a vintage GPO 746 rotary dial phone and it worked just as it did with ADSL. So if your phone line currently supports pulse-dialling phones, then switching to FTTC won't affect it, as long as your phone service provider doesn't change.

With FTTC, commonly marketed as Fibre broadband or BT Infinity , your phone line remains a pair of copper wires going from your house to the exchange. The voice phone line works exactly as it did before. The main difference concerns the broadband. In ADSL, the broadband signal travels all the way from the exchange to your house on the same copper wire as your voice phone line. This can be several miles of copper wire. Over that distance, the signal becomes degraded and your broadband speed slows down. FTTC inserts the broadband onto your phone line via a green cabinet in your street or very close to where you live. The broadband signal then travels a much shorter distance over copper wire to your house and you get much faster speed.

I can understand BT wanting to move all their customers onto FTTC. It means they will no longer need the ADSL equipment at their exchanges and can save the costs of running both systems. Eventually they can eliminate copper telephone lines too, but I believe this is still some years away from happening.

There is another type of broadband - Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) but I haven't encountered that yet. It's expensive and only available in a small number of areas. Even then, I'm not sure if you keep your copper wire for voice calls or they supply you with a VoIP adaptor. If you are getting FTTP, you should receive some instructions with it. If you are told to unplug your existing phones and plug them into the hub they supplied you with, then this means your copper phone line will be discontinued, otherwise your phone service will stay the same.

Virgin Media is a cable TV provider which also offers high-speed broadband and telephone lines. They use coaxial copper cable, like TV aerial wire to supply the broadband and TV to your house, and traditional copper wire like BT for the telephone service, though their network is entirely separate from BT. Things are changing, and new Virgin customers are being supplied with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service instead. This converts your voice to digits and sends it down your broadband connection. The one snag to this is that if your broadband fails, or there is a power cut, your phone service won't work either. This can be a problem if you have things like alarms that depend on fixed-line phone lines. I'd recommend keeping a mobile phone handy for emergencies.

Even if everything goes VoIP and old style copper phone lines are switched off (this is planned to happen some years from now) there are still lots of ways to use your beloved vintage telephones. I have a little collection of them and have tried various ways to make them work. Since 2013 I have had no actual phone line at my house. I used Virgin Media cable broadband with a VoIP adaptor and Sipgate Basic phone service https://sipgatebasic.co.uk

Some VoIP adaptors such as Grandstream HT502 support pulse dialling but most don't. I also tried :

DialGizmo pulse to tone converter http://www.dialgizmo.com

Panasonic KX-T61610BE PABX - this is a small telephone exchange which supports pulse dialling phones and can convert pulse to tone for outgoing calls. This and the smaller KX-T308 can be obtained secondhand for little money. It's also great for testing old phones - just plug two of them in. One phone can ring another extension without using an external phone line.

X-Link BTTN : http://www.myxlink.com

This box is specifically designed for using vintage phones with or without a phone line. You can even adjust the pulse timing to make it work with old, erratic dial phones. Calls can be sent or received using your vintage phone via a mobile phone (useful if you have inclusive minutes), a real landline or a VoIP adaptor in my case.

Finally there is the good old Pocket Tone Dialer keypad that you previously mentioned. These were once given away by banks and building societies for use with their telephone banking services. They were also used to retrieve messages remotely from answering machines. You can also use a modern tone-dialing phone to dial the numbers, then pick up the vintage handset (connected as an extension via a double adaptor) to continue the call.

Just as the digital switchover didn't stop us using vintage TVs, there are still plenty of ways to use vintage telephones. Have fun!

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Posted : 14/02/2020 2:12 am
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Katie Bush
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Well this all a bit sudden!

Yesterday, I received an email from BT, advising me that my fibre optic broadband will be switched on tonight (05 March 2020) - sooner than intended. Switch over will happen tonight at, or around, 23:30, and will cause about 30 minutes interruption to my broadband service - I will receive an email just ahead of the event.

So, for those interested in FSO and LD telephones, I'll let you know in due course!

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Topic starter Posted : 05/03/2020 8:17 pm
Cathovisor
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Thanks Marion - I await further developments!

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Posted : 05/03/2020 10:12 pm
Katie Bush
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@cathovisor I'm assuming that all goes well, of course! ?

If not, then it may be tomorrow before I can let you know.

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Topic starter Posted : 05/03/2020 10:15 pm
Nuvistor
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Interesting article from a few days ago.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/03/03/openreach_ip_voice_network/

Frank

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Posted : 05/03/2020 11:19 pm
Cathovisor
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I know these tech monkeys love to poke fun at those who have landlines and usually do so with a bakelite phone in a picture, but for some of us they're absolutely essential - mobile phone reception here is terrible. Similarly, my mother-in-law relies on an emergency dialler should she have a fall,which uses a land line.

Morons.

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Posted : 06/03/2020 5:15 am
Nuvistor
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From what I understand about the turn off of PSTN, and I think 2025 is pie in the sky **, a “land line” type telephone will still be available but over VOIP instead of the PSTN. 
The copper from the house to cabinet will still be required but the copper from cabinet to exchange will be redundant and also the switching gear in the exchange. Unless they upgrade everyone to FTTP then there will be no copper.

** The reg article states they will need to change over 50,000 lines a week to meet the deadline. Has Cathovisor states there is also the safety equipment that relies on PSTN, all that infrastructure will require replacing. The requirement of 999 calls to be available will require battery backup in all cabinets and homes, nice maintenance bill for that. I don’t think 2025 going to be enough time but we shall see.

Has I have said in an earlier post my cabinet is quite a distance, it needs to be much nearer unless they install a 5G point on a street lamp nearby and we use that, all fun and games.

Hope the upgrade at Marions as gone well.

Frank

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Posted : 06/03/2020 9:40 am
Doz
 Doz
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A friend of mine has just been informed BT are to switch his line to voip at his business premises.

He runs an MOT testing station, the computer for which which dials up to the Dept. of transport... No provision has been made for this, nor his alarm system dialler.

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Posted : 06/03/2020 10:22 am
Nuvistor
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Be nice to know how he gets around those problems, there will be many similar cases.

Frank

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Posted : 06/03/2020 11:34 am
Katie Bush
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Well, if that's it, it's a lacklustre affair!

I stayed up to see what happened, and at 23:30 - nothing happened! So I cleared down and got ready for bed. At dead on the stroke of midnight, my broadband router started flashing its multicoloured LED display for a couple of minutes, and went back to blue, as normal.  I assume that was "it" but I didn't try to go back on line at that time.

Today, I notice a marginal improvement in access speeds, but it's not what I'd call all that impressive - let's say, I would not want to have paid for the upgrade considering the miniscule difference. It's about the same kind of difference you would get when the kiddies had all gone offline in the evenings, or after the end of a live streamed major event, but who knows? When broadband first arrived in my village, it took a few days for the system to settle on a consistent performance, but at the moment, it's an "If you hadn't told me, I would never have noticed" kind of difference.

Now, how about LD telephones? I tried my old BT 'Rapport Plus' which has switchable DTMF/LD signalling. I'm happy to report that it works in either mode. However, I also tried the Open Reach "Line Test Facility" (17070), and whilst you can call the facility, its options menu does not respond to LD signalling - I would add though, that I hadn't thought to try that before switch over, so cannot be absolutely sure that it would have worked anyway. It still works fine with DTMF.

Beyond this, everything today is normal as far as the phone and broadband services are concerned. If there is anything of note, it would be that on the Rapport, there is a significant audio frequency hum, like an open ended lead on an audio amp, but again, there maybe be an issue with the phone itself, though I have no reason to suspect it to be at fault. Using the 'bang-up-to-date' BT 6600 (what ever happened to the days when they had names instead of prison issue numbers?), everything is crystal clear and as good as it was before.

In the post this morning, I received a letter from BT advising me that I am now on "Superfast Fibre 2" (Superfast? - That's debatable!), and that my monthly payments will be increased in line with CPI inflation (Oh aye?). I allegedly have an average speed of 67Mb/s, and unlimited usage, plus, a "Stay Fast Guarantee".

So, I've ditched my "Choose To Refuse" service (£5 a month) and my monthly charge still increases to £11 more than it was before - Hmm, tricky fellas, these CPI figures! ???

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Topic starter Posted : 06/03/2020 1:37 pm
Nuvistor
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Did you try a speed test?

Frank

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Posted : 06/03/2020 1:44 pm
Katie Bush
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Actually, no! But that's good thinking - can you give me a link to a decent test app?

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Topic starter Posted : 06/03/2020 1:56 pm
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