Careium visits Openreach’s test lab in preparation for the digital future

Careium’s digital transformation team recently visited Openreach’s Digital Services Test Lab in London. Over the next few years analogue telephony services will be switched off as the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure is upgraded to digital connectivity. It’s the chance to embrace more reliable, secure, and cost-efficient telecare solutions, but it is also crucial that the reliability and safety of telecare and social alarm services is not compromised.

The lab provides an environment which emulates some of the conditions found when an analogue line migrates to a digital line. This enables vendors of hardware used on the UK telephony network maintained by Openreach, to test their products in an environment which emulates new digital services.

Digital Team
L-R Jon, Gary, Emma

The Careium team – Gary Clark, Jon Abel and Emma Gorely – carried out a rigorous level of testing which gave great peace of mind and provided us with further knowledge to be able to educate our customers on how legacy analogue dispersed alarm devices (that we have deployed for many years through service and private pay sectors) traverse the new digital networks and their associated reliability in doing so.

We generated over 800 alarm calls across 6 different communication suppliers utilising different telecare languages (Protocols), and we will return to the test centre in the near future where we plan to test a further 1000 calls. The initial results were insightful and confirmed Openreach’s and communication provider guidance that a digital product is best and most reliable across the new digital network.

Team at Openreach
Team at Openreach

Opened in November 2021, Openreach followed BT’s approach by building a test centre that suppliers could bring their devices to test over the next generation networks, the great thing about Openreach’s versions is that it gives you the ability to test a variety of different line providers (currently has 6), across the different implementations or versions of service (FTTP, SOGEA, SOGFAST) either using ethernet or ATAs (Analogue telephone adapters) depending on the type of devices being tested.

Gary Clark, Careium Digital Transformation Director, said “The visit was a great success, giving us the valuable opportunity to test telecare equipment in an all IP environment. What Openreach have created here replicates the next generation network as much as it can and to be able to test in that environment is so vital for us and should be for any supplier of telecare. In communications from the telecare industry we see that first time call failures in analogue devices are rising as a result of digitisation or deterioration of our current networks, that the messaging is that analogue devices could be a lot less reliable over these new networks. Testing has proved that this is indeed the case, some providers devices or some protocols or languages more reliable than others and ultimately that digital devices are more reliable over new digital networks.”

In 2025, all PSTN and ISDN phone lines will be switched off. Every service will change to all-IP, marking the biggest shake up of the telecoms industry in 30 years. 2025 will roll around very quickly and as a telecare industry supporting millions of vulnerable people it’s important we are prepared. Action and careful planning needs to begin now so that telecare and social alarm service reliability and safety is not compromised: that lives are not put at risk.

If you would like to discuss the outcome of our testing or how we can assist you in your transformation journey then please do not hesitate to get in touch [email protected]. See more on Preparing for a Digital Future.