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Power Cuts and PSTN

Archer
Grafter
Posts: 31
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎27-06-2016

Power Cuts and PSTN

I have just emerged from the first of this winters power cuts. About 2.5 hours.

All credit to UK Power Networks, within 2 mins of the power going off my old PSTN phone rang (yes it has bells) with an automated update. Apparently the line line is associated with the affected area.

This made me think how this might happen once the PSTN line is lost and that maybe I have been too cavalier in shrugging off the closing of the PSTN as just  one of those things.

I need to think more clearly about how to deal with such events and plan accordingly.

I have no doubt someone on the forum has thought this through already, so I would be pleased to have any thoughts on the subject.

Thanks in advance.

10 REPLIES 10
beeceegee
Pro
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Registered: ‎27-11-2012

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

I have my router and Gigaset voip base station on a ups which will give between 1 and 2 hours backup. I also have an app which allows my mobile to be a voip handset which will keep me connected on the "landline" as long as the local mobile mast stays powered up and my phone is charged.

Mr_Paul
Seasoned Pro
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Registered: ‎07-06-2022

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

@Archer 

This is a fairly common question, and there have been a number of threads about it on these and other forums.

Are you on an ADSL or FTTC connectrion?

An ADSL is a passive pair of wires back to your local exchange, which has backup batteries, and usually a generator as well so that telephone service is maintained in the event of a mains power failure.

With FTTC, you are dependent upon the backup power available in the fibre cabinet - which is generally about 30 minutes, (I think?).

 

 

JSHarris
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 199
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

I realised that we'd potentially lose all means of contact with the outside world come the closure of the PSTN a few months ago.  We also live in an area prone to power cuts, had four so far in the past six weeks.  Most only last an hour or two, but last winter we had a couple that lasted more than 8 hours.

What I've learned (from experience) is that the backup power in our FTTC cabinet only keeps it going for about half an hour.  We lose broadband, even with power backup in the house, when the cabinet backup power runs out.  At the moment the landline phone stays working on exchange power, but obviously that will; go soon.

We can't get a mobile signal at ground level here, even outside.  Only way I can get a signal is to hold a phone at arms length out of an upstairs window, but I can't make calls like that. After discovering that the only mobile mast we can connect to has a big back up generator, so can stay working for days if the grid goes down, I invested in a high gain dish antenna with a built in 4G router.  I've mounted this high on the gable wall of the house and can get a usable, if not very fast, internet connection.

I have that 4G router connected to a Grandstream analogue telephone adapter, with the house phones plugged into it.  Together with a VOIP service from Andrews & Arnold (Plusnet don't offer any telephone services now) we have a working phone that I hope will continue to work during a long power cut.  I have the 4G router and Grandstream ATA powered from our battery backup supply, which can last up to a couple of days if we're frugal.

Mr_Paul
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Registered: ‎07-06-2022

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

@JSHarris 

"After discovering that the only mobile mast we can connect to has a big back up generator, so can stay working for days if the grid goes down"

 

JOOI, how did you find out about the backup power facilities at "your" cell site?

 

 

JSHarris
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

I had a few problems working out which mast to point the 4G modem at, so drove around and looked at the two possibilties.  One was a small mast, like a big version of a street light pole, with just a small cabinet at the base.  The other was a monster lattice tower, with loads of antennas and several buildings and cabins around the base.

 

The latter looked to be the best bet, so having found it on the map I found several planning documents on the council website.  One of these was for a generator building to provide emergency back up power.

 

I also discovered that only a few mobile masts have backup power, quite a lot just stop working if there's a power cut.  The key is to try and find if a mast is earmarked for the new Emergency Services Network (the mobile network replacement for the police, fire service and ambulance service Airwave radios).  If it is, then the chances are it will have a backup power supply.

 

Mr_Paul
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Registered: ‎07-06-2022

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

@JSHarris 

A great bit of detective work!


"The key is to try and find if a mast is earmarked for the new Emergency Services Network (the mobile network replacement for the police, fire service and ambulance service Airwave radios)"

Any advice on how to find out that information please?

 

 

JSHarris
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

I found it in a planning document on the local council website.  The application was for a new generator cabin and the justification was that this new generator was needed to maintain the ESN network. 

Getting hold of accurate information about masts seems incredibly difficult.  There's no official publicly accessible data, and what there is tends to be outdated, often by a couple of decades or more.  There is Cellmapper, a site that collects data from thousands of volunteers and maps out coverage, but it's far from definitive and also has lots of errors when it comes to things like antenna directions.

I can only think that the government views mobile mast sites as possible terrorist targets, so encourages all the operators to hide their information.

Archer
Grafter
Posts: 31
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Registered: ‎27-06-2016

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

Thanks for lots to think about.

However, the issue I was thinking about was how a utility or blue light service would get in contact in the way UK Power Networks did for our last outage.

I believe traditional phone lines are mapped to addresses somewhere, so that if you call 999 they instantly know where you are. Similarly if there is a untility issue they know the phone numbers for affected addresses.

How this would be covered post PSTN I don't know.

To answer some of the questions raised: I have an ADSL line and mobile coverage is not a problem.

Dan_the_Van
Aspiring Hero
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Registered: ‎25-06-2007

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

I was not aware UK Power networks just sent out blanket phone alerts unless you had registered for them, which was something I did when I lived in the area covered by them

Since moving to the South coast I have registered with SSEN and Portsmouth Water as being vulnerable, all you need to be is old (over 65).

I believe regardless of the CLI settings for your landline or mobile phone when calling emergency services your number will be displayed. 

 

 

 

JSHarris
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Power Cuts and PSTN

If you register your address with the VOIP service provider that you choose to use then they should lodge this with the emergency services.  I know that Andrews & Arnold do this.  As soon as I filled in my name and address info I had an email from them telling me that the VOIP number they'd allocated had been registered to our address and that any 999 cal made from that number would automatically pass our address to the operator.