17may copper myths hero

Copper myths

If you require your copper line to, for example, connect an old alarm system, but you want to upgrade to fibre make sure to tell your installer.


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When you get fibre installed to your home, you are disconnected from the public telephone network. The copper is often removed to create a path for the fibre to go through.

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There’s a myth your copper-line telephone always works in an emergency. Copper lines get power from the exchange so if the power on your street is out, you’d probably still be able to use it. But in a wider emergency, where the exchange was down too, then your copper-line phone would be dead.

Fibre and 4G need power to work and can’t get it from the exchange (as fibre uses light to transmit data and 4G is a radio signal). If you’re worried about usage in a power outage, you can get an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) — a battery that sits between your equipment and the power plug — to keep things going temporarily while the power’s off.

It's also a good idea to buy a USB power pack for your emergency kit to charge your mobile phone. Spark can often get its mobile network up faster than physical communication lines after a disaster, by using portable, generator-powered mobile towers; so you’ll want your mobile working.

The network itself is getting an upgrade. Spark’s 30-year-old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is being phased out over the next 5 years, with a new next-gen system taking its place. This new IP-based network is called the Converged Communications Network (CCN).

Spark says this new network will enable a greater range of services. This includes landline, mobile, video and data-based communications. There are also plans to fit cabinets with batteries capable of supplying emergency power (for roughly 4-5 hours).

But what does this mean for consumers currently on the copper network? Very little. You may have heard that all landlines are being unplugged, but that’s not the case. Nobody who wants or needs a landline will be without one. Most users shouldn’t even notice the change as their existing devices, like alarms, should continue to work normally.

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