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Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

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JSHarris
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

I want to pre-empt the forthcoming end of the PSTN by switching to VOIP in plenty of time, hopefully so that I can get to grips with what's needed before getting told I have to sort all this out in a hurry.

 

Our situation is that we have no usable mobile phone service, we live in a rural area and there's virtually no signal, I can just about get one bar if I lean right out of our bedroom window, but can't use the phone like that to make a call as my arm needs to be at full stretch.  We also get a LOT of power cuts here, so I already have a big UPS to keep the modem, router, switch etc all powered up when the power fails.

 

This means I need to find a reliable way to maintain emergency contact with the outside world (I'm over 70) when they take away our landline.

 

I can't switch to full fibre, as it's not available here and from what I've heard from Openreach it may well be a decade or two before they run fibre along our lane.  It seems very likely that we will lose our landline years before FTTP gets here, if it ever does in my lifetime.  We are about 3km (wire distance) from an FTTC cabinet though, so get about 18Mb/s via FTTC.  Currently we have a Plusnet "Unlimited Fibre" service for VDSL broadband and phone.  Sadly the fibre cabinet falls over when there's a power cut, it seems to last for about 20 minutes and then dies, presumably because the cabinet only has a small backup battery.  Not a lot of use when power cuts lasting several hours are commonplace in winter.

 

I've no wish to spend ages trying to get through to someone at Plusnet to try and find a solution, been there, done that, and my remaining time on this planet is too short to spend much of it on hold!  Having read a lot of very helpful information here, I think I can see a solution that may work for us.

 

I've bought a second hand 4G gateway, plus a high gain MIMO outdoor antenna, and with that, and a cheap 30 day contract SIM as an experiment I've found that I can get about 10Mb/s on a second network.  I've been told that the mast that we're connecting to has long-duration backup power, as it hosts the emergency services comms system.  Hopefully this means it will work when we get a power cut, so all I need to do is make sure I can power our equipment for a day or two (won't be an issue, we have 22kWh of back up battery power). 

 

The gateway has four Ethernet ports as well as WiFi, and I want to explore using a VOIP ATA to connect our landline phones.  To this end I've bought a Cisco ATA and signed up with Andrews and Arnold for a VOIP service, initially as an experiment to see if it will work OK here.

 

My question is, can I change our Unlimited Fibre package to the only other available package (Fibre) and port our existing landline number to the A&A VOIP service?  I understand (from this thread: https://community.plus.net/t5/Home-Phone/Switching-from-PlusNet-copper-landline-to-VOIP/m-p/1925987#...) that I could do this if I switched from Unlimited Fibre to Full Fibre, but Full Fibre isn't available.

 

Keeping our existing number would be very useful, as we have a lot of older friends and relatives that struggle a bit with things like numbers changing.  As an aside I can see many of them having a major problem when their phones stop working, as a fair few of them don't use the internet or have mobile phones.  Not sure this PSTN removal thing has been thought through, from the perspective of those in remote rural areas.

35 REPLIES 35
bmc
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Registered: ‎28-02-2017

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris 

From what you say you're pretty well sorted already and will know all about VOIP when the time comes.

 

I would keep the phone line for as long as possible as it works during power cuts.

 

FTTC requires a phone line to work so the copper line won't be removed - just the PSTN. OpenReach do have a product for supplying FTTC over copper only so your internet will still work.

 

Can you post a screen shot of the results from the following so others who are more knowledgeable than me can advise on your options. Remember to hide your personal details.

https://www.broadbandchecker.btwholesale.com/#/ADSL

 

Brian

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

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

Many thanks, much appreciated.  Here's a screenshot from that website (haven't a clue what a lot of it means I'm afraid!).  The speeds quoted on it are very optimistic, the best I've ever seen has been about 19Mb/s and a lot of the time it hovers around 18Mb/s download at best, with much slower upload speeds.

 

Availability checker.jpg

jab1
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Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris Excuse me for jumping in here. I can't advise on the phone side of things, but that BTw report says you are getting 27Mb/s to your master socket - you should be achieving around 23Mb/s on a speed test. Which Hub/router are you using?

John
bmc
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Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris 

The key bit is to the right of the header - WBC SOGEA is available. This is the internet only product.

https://www.openreach.co.uk/cpportal/products/fibre-broadband/sogea

 

The next question is do PlusNet supply a product using it.

 

Brian

 

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service


@bmc wrote:

 

The next question is do PlusNet supply a product using it.

 

Yes.

 

In my "Member Centre", Offers and Upgrades in the "Fibre without a phone line service FAQs", it says -

 

Screenshot 2023-08-06 at 13-20-23 Review your broadband deal Offers and Upgrades Plusnet.png

JSHarris
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Posts: 199
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Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@jab1 

 

The modem is remote from the house, it's an Openreach HG612 in an external comms cabinet, powered by a PoE adapter with a run of underground Cat5e (alongside a run of underground CW1326 phone cable) inside a 20m long bit of BT Duct 56.  This pops up through the floor slab of the house, with the CW1326 running to a BT66A junction in the loft, and thence to the phone sockets.  The gel-filled Cat5a terminates on a wall outlet (with PoE feed) and thence to an Asus  RT-AC66U-B1 router.  The router only functions as a router and WiFi AP, the VDSL modem function is disabled.

 

The reason for doing this was at the suggestion of Openreach when the cables went in.  Their logic was that putting the modem as close as possible to the incoming cable gave us the best chance of getting reasonably workable broadband.  When we built the house a few years ago we knew that we were unlikely to get anything super-fast, as the copper wire does a big loop around to get to us (the FTTC cabinet is about 1400m away, but the wire length is double that).

 

We've never had ADSL here, as by good fortune (and because ADSL locally would have been little better than dial-up) the government, or maybe the local authority, funded the fibre cabinet around the time we built the house.  We were lucky, as all the DSLAM slots were fully booked the instant the cabinet went live.  A lot of people had to wait months for an extension cabinet to be added to provide more slots.

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

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@Anonymous 

 

Good spot, I'd not twigged the SoGEA bit, or what it meant.

 

The only question that remains is whether Plusnet would allow me to switch to Fibre and port our existing phone number to the A&A VOIP service.  The FAQ isn't clear about this, and implies that if I do this I will lose our number.

 

My assumption (dangerous things assumptions!) is that come the PSTN removal date Plusnet will just switch us from Unlimited Fibre to Fibre anyway.  From what I can see the only difference between those two packages is that Unlimited Fibre is FTTC with a phone landline and Fibre is FTTC without it.

bmc
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Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris 

I would still keep my phone line for as long as possible. You've got an A&A VOIP account so you'll know how it works when the time comes.

 

For the time being you could phone the PlusNet Customer Options Team on 0800 013 2632 and ask about your options. Make it clear you're only planning for the future so they don't switch you unexpectively.

 

Brian

jab1
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Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris Thanks for that explanation - although to be honest the after-HG612 wiring shouldn't make that much difference to your speeds. I don't want to go off at a tangent though, so if you are 'happy' with what you get, I'll exit stage left.

John
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

You are right it is not clear or guaranteed !

 

The SAFE solution, would be to do a single order with A&A and migrate both your broadband and phone number to them.  They have a great track record of doing that successfully.

 

The alternative, but still somewhat risky would be -

1)   Ask Plusnet to migrate your connection from FTTC to SoGEA

2)  Wait until the transfer is complete and your phone stops working

3)  Theoretically Ofcom say your phone number should remain available to you for 30 days

4)  Place an order with A&A to port your now disconnected phone number to their VoIP service.

 

DO NOT port the phone number first as that is LIKELY to cease your broadband service and Plusnet account.

 

There is a post somewhere on this forum (that I can't find) that said that A&A were unable to acquire the discontinued phone number.  However there a many other people here that have been lucky with doing the above sequence.

 

Personally I'm a VERY similar situation as you, and I'm currently tending to think that for the sake of a couple of pounds extra a month difference, I might as well do the SAFE thing and have the better service and IPv6 that A&A offer, and be as certain as I can be of retaining my very long time held phone number.

JSHarris
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Posts: 199
Thanks: 95
Registered: ‎06-08-2023

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@bmc 

Thanks again, I agree, hanging on to the landline for as long as possible is the safest bet.   I'm just aware that we may not get a lot of notice when the time comes for it to go, so want to make sure we've got a robust solution to maintain an emergency phone service when that happens.

 

The only reason for switching from Unlimited Fibre to Fibre (and porting the existing number) early is financial.  We'd save around £15/month in line rental and call charges by doing this, and that would more than pay for the A&A charges and the SIM in the 4G gateway. 

 

I'll hold on for a while and see how the 4G gateway and A&A VOIP service goes.  The test will be in the autumn, when the equinoctial storms hit, as we're bound to lose power a few times then.  It may also be that the 4G signal gets degraded in heavy rain, so far I've not had the chance to check that.

 

I can see me getting involved in sorting others out before long.  The lack of any sort of proactive campaign to make people aware of the changes that are happening, and the near-total absence of mitigation measures for those in rural areas without either mobile or broadband, seems a staggering bit of incompetence by the government.  My wife has suggested I chat with our nearest neighbours, as they are older than us and unlike us they don't have broadband.  Like us they won't get a mobile signal, either.

bmc
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Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service

@JSHarris 

I'm not at all cerain you'd save as much as you think - the bulk of phone costs are in maintaining the line and not the service itself.

 

Phone COTS so you have the answers for future reference. Among other things they'd tell you how much an internet only connection is.

 

If you do phone let us know the answers.

 

Brian

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service


@JSHarris wrote:

 

... the near-total absence of mitigation measures for those in rural areas without either mobile or broadband, seems a staggering bit of incompetence by the government.

 

I have already been hit by this.  I've had EE mobile since around 1994, and they were the ONLY 3G network signal my handset could receive indoors (no 4G or 5G).  So what happened a few months back ? Oh yes that great idea of shutting down the 3G networks.  So I got a series of increasingly urgent letters from EE saying I MUST upgrade my 3G handset to 4G otherwise my SIM would stop working, but their customer support seemed not to understand that there is NO 4G signal at my home - but I should still upgrade to a 4G handset anyway.  Eventually I ported my mobile number to O2 who were the only network that could provide indoor 2G, which is good enough for emergency calls and receiving banking PIN codes etc.

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Switching from FTTC to a VOIP service


@JSHarris wrote:

 

The only reason for switching from Unlimited Fibre to Fibre (and porting the existing number) early is financial.  We'd save around £15/month in line rental and call charges by doing this, and that would more than pay for the A&A charges and the SIM in the 4G gateway. 

 

You could do the SAFE migration of both broadband and phone number to A&A on their shorter 6 month contract period.  You could use the extensive line tuning and monitoring tools in the A&A control panel, to optimise your wiring and modem setup,  then after six months migrate just your broadband to a cheaper provider (perhaps back to Plusnet) for ongoing savings.