With the digital switch well on its way throughout the UK it is not a question of “if” but rather of “when” your lifts will be affected. The main effect this will have on emergency communications equipment is the lack of power that fibre lines offer. Whereby copper lines always carried a supply of power ensuring the phones could continue to work in the event of a power failure, this is no longer the case with fibre lines and this has a direct impact on your lift autodialler.
To ensure that your emergency lift phone will continue to work after the change from copper lines to fibre, it is important to discuss a few key issues with your lift maintenance provider that will help you decide how your current setup will need to be adapted.
It is important to understand all the key components of the emergency call chain. Knowing this will help you understand the implications of the change to fibre lines and what additional equipment may be required.
If you don’t currently have an emergency communications setup, you should conduct a risk assessment in line with EN81-80 to determine if one should be added. All lifts placed onto the UK market after July 1999 should have a two way means of communication installed to comply with the ‘Lift Regulations’.
Your lift maintenance provider may tell you that you already have a GSM system installed. This is excellent news for you as your phone won’t be affected by the digital switch because it does not operate on a landline and instead uses the mobile network to communicate.
However, should their answer be that your emergency lift alarm is connected to a landline you will need to ask some follow-up questions like the ones detailed below.
There is also a possibility that the current setup you have is line powered which means you will need to upgrade your setup.
If the answer is yes, you’re in luck. No changes are required; however you should still ask the question below regarding what happens in the event of a power failure.
The reason your equipment many not be compatible with fibre lines will most likely be because the fibre line doesn’t provide the DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) tones required by your lift alarm.
You may choose to buy an Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA), but you need to be aware that ATAs are difficult to configure, come in a variety of models so you will need to check for compatibility with your equipment, and will also require a backup in the event of a power failure.
Fibre-based phone lines without the appropriate power backup will fail, the ATA will fail and the routers will fail.
You may want to source an independent and uninterrupted power supply to provide a backup for the fibre line, the ATA (if used) and the router.
If you supply a power backup for your setup, be aware that you are responsible for it, not the lift company, because it becomes part of the line connection you are providing. You will need to take ownership of the maintenance and monitoring of that battery to ensure it is always operative.
With this information in hand, the next step is for you to agree on a way forward with your lift company. Discuss the available solutions and choose what offers you the best safety options and the level of support you require.
The most reliable and quick to install options we recommend, which are fully compliant, are package options that can adapt your emergency communications setup:
The Digital Communication Platform (DCP) provides a fully EN81-28 compliant digital solution that offers no risk of corrupted DTMF tones, full remote configuration, monitoring via the Avire Hub, and a data channel for up to 4 lifts sharing a machine room.
In addition, a dedicated non-steered roaming M2M Avire SIM card designed to remove the risk of an “underactive” SIM Card being deregistered from the network.
Finally, our Top of Car Digital Audio Unit is the last key piece to complete your setup, ensuring your digital solution is futureproof and secure.
Unlike other GSM devices the DCP can convert analogue DTMF tone into data packets to be sent over the mobile network. This lowers call costs and any issues with DTMF tones being distorted over the mobile phone network are eliminated (please note there is still a risk of interference at the installation).
The total number of lifts that will be affected by this change is in the hundreds of thousands, which means that there will be a growing waiting time to access support.
As the digital switch is already happening, we recommend you address this now, before analogue support is withdrawn in your area and you find yourself with an inoperative emergency phone which can leave you exposed.