Pickerings Lifts

Pickerings Lifts: Upgrading to digital phone lines – FAQs

  • 10 Mar 2022

As more and more customers are asking us about the planned ‘digital switchover’, Pickerings Lifts took the opportunity to catch up with its Service Director, Gary Rains, at its London North regional office in Romford.

He’s been with Pickerings Lifts for more than 19 years, and has worked in the industry since 1983. He explained that we all have a part to play when it comes the upgrade to digital phone lines.

Pickerings Lifts

Q: What’s the background to all of this?

“With the change of BT customer requirements analogue phone lines will be phased out over the next 3 – 4 years as part of the planned switch from Copper lines to Fibre.

The new Fibre lines will not be able to support several requirements detailed within the current, Remote alarm on passenger and goods passenger lifts standards EN 81-28 (2003).

All passenger lifts installed since 1999 are required to have a local alarm and auto dialler system fitted – usually an alarm button that connects to a rescue service via a pre-programmed unit which contains several Emergency phone numbers.

This is a piece of hardware that usually sits on top of the lift car and is plugged into the phone line using an Openreach master socket.

The rescue service is generally provided by a lift service provider such as Pickerings Lifts.”

Q: Is this a legal requirement?

“Since 1999, the Lifts Regulations have required all new lifts to be fitted with an alarm device with two-way voice communication between the lift car and a rescue service.

The Lifts Regulations and BS EN 81-28 specify that certain functions such as a three-day test call to check the integrity of the system, should be conducted, a function that Fibre cannot support hence the need to review suitable Digital alternatives.”

Q: So what’s changing and when?

“The majority of auto-dalliers in the UK use the current public switched telephone network (PSTN) analogue lines. That’s land lines to me and you!

British Telecom (BT) have begun to switch over to fibre connections and have a set a deadline for the replacement of no later than the end of December 2025.”

Q: Why is this important to lift owners?

“This switchover from (and removal of) traditional telephone lines will have a major impact on the operation of lift alarms connected to the old PSTN Network as explained above.

As part of BT’s ‘Fibre first’ program, from 2020, if your local area has over 75% of its network on Fibre, they plan to provide 12-months’ notice to their clients, and implement a local ‘stop sell policy’ before the completely remove Copper analogue lines from that area. 

A National ‘stop sell’ is planned for 2023 where analogue line support will begin to be removed.”

Q: When will this switchover start?

“Well, what many people don’t realise is that it already has!

In December 2019 over two million homes were supplied with Fibre only lines and this has escalated to an estimated 4.5 million in March 2021.

Customers should therefore check if and when the telecom upgrade works are planned for their area, and also if their current alarm system is compatible with the new line.”

Q: What are some of the considerations are there when it comes to existing alarm systems?

“If owners are looking to change the type of communication link to the lift alarm device, they should seek the support of a reputable lift service provider such as Pickerings Lifts.

We would be happy to liaise with the alarm device provider to determine the compatibility of the device with a digital solution to ensure continued compliance with the standards.

We would recommend a digital solution such as a GSM and SIM card, is fitted to replace the analogue phone lines.

This would provide a digital solution and include a minimum of a one hour backup battery supply, in case of a power failure.

These GSM systems can be monitored remotely and send set to send alert notification as necessary.  These may include SIM data or battery back-up status for example.”

Q: What is our part of the process as a lift maintenance company?

“Our job is to make our customers aware and guide them through that process whilst ensuring we provide an effective, value-for-money solution.

We’ve been working hard in the background to identify products and systems that will meet this brief.

Of course, one of the benefits of using a national service provider like Pickerings Lifts, is that we can use our purchasing power to achieve cost savings that can be passed onto our customers.”

Q: What are the options?

“For most customers, the quickest, and most cost-effective, solution is to fit a GSM Gateway. This simulates and replaces the now obsolete ‘land line’.

They use a standard SIM card and remove the need for a hard-wired phone line. As the existing auto-dialler can be retained there is an initial saving, and customers will find this also reduces their on-going running costs over time!”

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