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KBG – Killearn Specific Information

Digital Voice in Killearn

This currently only applies to a few premises in Killearn.

Digital Voice means that your telephony service (phone calls) will be delivered through your full-fibre broadband connection rather than the metal connection in use up until now.

The switchover process seems to be a letter from BT announcing the change is coming, shortly followed by a text identifying a date for the change. There may also be a postcard round about the day of the change reminding you. I gather that BT hope to change everyone over by 2025 but this seems an ambitious target.

From a user perspective, all that's needed is to plug your existing telephone into the telephone socket on the back of the BT hub. There should be a black sticker on the rear of your hub (typically a Smart Hub2) covering a green phone socket. All that you have to do is move the telephone cable from your existing phone wall-socket to this one on the hub.

You won't know that the changeover has happened initially as the existing wall-socket will continue to work for another day or so, but you will find out when you try to call a local number. With the new service it is necessary to dial the 01360 code as well as your desired local number. This can be rather a nuisance if you don't have a phone with a contact list function.

The Digital (wifi or VOIP) handset, offered free by BT, is available and does have this feature. If you have multiple telephone sockets in use, an adapter is also available, instead of the Digital Handset, again free of charge. A voucher code is required to obtain either of these for free, obtained via the BT website shown in the letter. Some redeeming aspects of the change: the 1571 Phone Message service has returned, along with Caller Line Identity (that let's you see who's calling you, both currently provided free of charge.

Note: However, if you have special services, such as a health pendant or a burglar alarm, these should not be switched over and you should contact BT on 0800 800 150 or text ALARM to 61998 to stop the switchover on these lines. It is possible that your alarm company may offer a connection using the mobile 4G service as a replacement but there is likely to be an additional charge for this.

You should also be aware that there will be no longer be a 999 service available if there is a power cut, so you should ensure that you have an alternative available, e.g. a mobile phone.

At present DV is only relevant to FTTP-enabled premises

In this area, full-fibre broadband (FTTP) is only available through BT at present. At present, Digital Voice is a service that seems only to be offered to those with an FTTP connection. Whilst still optional, BT in their communications with you prior to the fibre installation may not make it clear that you don’t have to accept Digital Voice as part of the service – yet – it’s still optional. But you do have to tell them not to switch you. Once BT switch you over, you are unable to go back – BT say – or if they can reverse the process, you may not retain your current telephone number. The message from BT (email or letter) apparently can give very little notice of the change to DV occurring, so little time to prepare for the consequences.

Once DV is enabled, the analogue telephone/landline service is disabled

The main consequence of Digital Voice, which is a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, is that your existing telephone service, on the well-known analogue landline, will be turned off. It is replaced by the VOIP telephone service. So existing equipment connected to the standard landline will cease to work (without alterations, see more below) maybe only a few hours after the fibre installation goes live. The BT do not appear to warn customers of potential consequences (see below) and there is a clear disconnect between the BT Openreach engineers who are primarily concerned with ensuring that the internet connection and hub are working and are blissfully unaware that the existing analogue telephone service will no longer be operational.

With a house or personal alarm connected to the landline you should NOT accept DV

As described in the previous report, if you use a house alarm system or personal alarm (Mex) you should NOT switch to Digital Voice at this stage. BT however DO intend to switch everyone in the UK over to Digital Voice by 2025. Most house alarm companies are well aware of this intention and will offer to fit a revised system, which uses the mobile phone network instead of the landline to alert an intrusion. In the case of the Mex system, the response system is run by Stirling Council and they seem totally unaware of these changes taking place and the implications for their users.

Equipment locations may have to change: The Digital Voice service operates through the Internet hub (router), which ideally is located in the centre of the premises to provide the best wifi coverage (for your internet use). Before your FTTP service was installed, the hub and your telephone equipment probably came from the same wall socket. BT Openreach who install the FTTP service will want to position it in the location most simple for them. Typically on the inner side of an outside wall. This may well not be where your existing master telephone socket is located, and therefore where your hub and telephone are currently.

To be fair, if you have a specific preferred location then providing it can be reached (for example under the floor), then BT Openreach will attempt to comply.

Existing telephone equipment should be re-usable

Your existing (analogue-line) telephone equipment can still be used but needs to be plugged into the back of the hub and there may be some caveats to its use (again, see below). That your hub and telephone are now in the same location, and maybe not where they were before, may not be what you want. BT have thought of this and have had a Digital Voice adapter available, but not currently (Oct 2021). The adapter just plugs into any available 13-amp socket and provides an ordinary telephone socket, the same as the one on the back of the hub, and the wall telephone socket that you will be used to. Existing equipment can be plugged into this socket.

There have been reports however of some features of the ordinary analogue line, now coming via the hub (and/or DV adapter), not being passed through to existing equipment successfully. Depending on exactly what existing equipment you are trying to use, some adjustments to configuration may also be required.

Personal alarm and basic telephone service

For Mex users, the first issue is that their existing connection is disabled when the DV service goes live and so they have no alarm service. They also have no phone service. Complaints have been made to BT Openreach and BT Retail that customers should NOT be left without a telephone service of some kind especially someone who has a personal alarm. The minimum that should be done is to plug an existing telephone into the back of the hub. The Mex system can also be connected into the back of the hub.

Reviving existing telephone extensions

Keeping the existing telephone sockets around the premises in operation: It should be possible to extract the existing wiring that provides extensions in other parts of the premises, disconnect it from the back of the master telephone socket and re-connect with a telephone plug to the back of the hub (if these are close enough to make the connection possible).

Existing equipment adjustments

Adjustments to existing equipment may be required as the pre-existing optional network services like CLI (Calling Line Identity) and Voice Messages (1571) may not operate without adjustment with the DV service. CLI presentation on the original analogue landline, and CLI presentation via DV are different. To use the original analogue-line equipment, the analogue-line format must be regenerated within the hub or adapter. It seems there may be issues with this regeneration process.

BT’s own Voice Message service (1571) is provided as a ‘free extra’ with DV. If however, you have your own Answer machine then there are 2 services both waiting to see if you are going to answer an incoming call. Whichever has been set to the lower number of rings will pick up the call first. It’s been found for example that using a BT Halo telephone system that includes a call screening and answer machine, that the BT VM system will deal with an incoming call before the BT Halo has a chance to kick in. I’m currently unsure whether either of these VM systems can have their response times adjusted to correct this. Initially the BT VM service has been turned off to correct the problem although separating the VM option and CLI options proved a challenge for BT Retail.

Next Generation Broadband is Coming to Killearn

Working Group

Killearn Community Council has recently set up a working group, under the chairmanship of Doug Ashworth, to identify broadband issues in the area served by the Killearn telephone exchange, and to lobby for the best possible solutions. We are working actively with other Community Councils and groups to share information and, jointly, to put the case for rural areas to key bodies such as the Scottish Government.

Open Day

We hosted a Broadband Open Day in the Village Hall on Saturday 24th October. The day was a big success with approximately 200 visitors from Killearn and surrounding villages.

How is Killearn connected?

At present there are three routes for broadband connection:

  • Via cabinet E1 (at Blane Smithy)
  • Via cabinet E3 (beside post cabinet at the top of Station Rd
  • Directly from the exchange – EO (Exchange Only) lines

You can check your own connection at Digital Scotland's interactive map.

Do not assume that because you are near a cabinet that you are connected to that. There are houses at Croy Cunningham which are connected directly to the exchange rather than the cabinet at the Blane Smithy roundabout. There are houses which are very close to the exchange as the crow flies, but which have very long connection lines, because the existing wires do not go directly. Neighbouring houses can have different connection routes. In fact, assume nothing.

The cabinets are due to be enabled by the end of 2015 – hopefully not long now! The EO lines are due to be enabled during the first half of 2016.

Update 26/11/15: Cabinet E1 is now enabled for NGB. Premises connected to this cabinet can now place orders for NGB connection.

Will I be able to get NGB?

We're not sure.

We have been told that 188 premises in Killearn will be connected to the cabinets and a further 331 directly to the exchange (EO). This is a total of 519, but the total number of premises in the KCC area (the village and the surrounding area) is around 900, leaving well over 300 apparently not covered. Not all premises in our area are linked to the Killearn exchange however – for example, Boquhan is in the Balfron exchange area.

How good could my NGB service be?

Somewhere between very, very good and no better than it is at present.

Disclaimer: We've tried very hard to piece together information about this but it is impossible to guarantee its accuracy.

GraphThe graph shows that about 44% may be able to get speeds in the 37-80 Mbps range. About 29% may be able to get speeds which count as ‘superfast’ of 24-37 Mbps. The remaining 27% or so will be only slightly better off (orange zone) or no better off (red zone) than with the current technology.

The Killearn exchange has recently been updated from ADSL to ADSL2+ technology, although not all premises seem to be receiving improved speeds yet.

KBG – Killearn Postcode Map

The map shows our best estimate of potential NGB speeds. Click on the top left icon to see the map key. You can change which connections are displayed. The colour coding/key labels refer to potential speed improvements over the current best technology (ADSL2+). You can click on the top right icon to view the map full-screen if necessary. Note that some postcodes have more than one connection.

KBG – West Stirlingshire White Areas Map

The map shows postcodes which are designated DSSB white areas. White areas are not expected to receive “superfast” broadband speeds (i.e. over about 24-30 Mbps) after the current roll-out is complete. Click on the top left icon to see the map key. You can change which villages are displayed. The colour coding shows which postcodes are served by which village exchange. You can click on the top right icon to view the map full-screen if necessary.