BT 21CN network changes.

Will my intruder alarm work?

For those who do not know the BT 21 century network is basically a massive upgrade being undertaken by BT to upgrade its old copper network to a faster more reliable fibre solution.


Cardiff was the starting point back in 2008 and has been a test bed for the new technology while BT continue planning the upgrade of exchanges in other areas. The main role out of the programme will commence in April 2010 and will take several years to complete Nationwide.


The main concern is that some older CPE (customers premises equipment) may fail .This includes the digicom which is still widely used across the UK. A digicom is a digital communicator that alarm panels use to transmit their signals back to the central station It is old technology and relies on a”handshake” from the central station to tell it that a signal has been received and not to attempt to re-dial. Due to latency in the new BT system where analogue products such as digicoms will have their data changed from analogue to IP and then back again the “handshake will possibly be missed causing the digicom to dial many calls to the central station resulting in overload.

40% failure rate.

It is estimated that as many as 40% of systems will suffer failure after the change over leaving many premises vulnerable to Criminal attack. So concerned are insurance companies their risk managers are sending briefings to their brokers and customers to let them know about the potential issues.


There are newer products out there that claim to be immune from any issues relating to the 21CN changeover. These include Redcare classic, Redcare GSM, CSL Dualcom’s there are also some pure IP communicators such as Webway and Emizon that will suffer no issues as they have been designed in advance to cope with the change over.


It will undoubtedly be to everyone’s advantage to upgrade their signalling from a digicom. After all the digicom is old technology and the least secure of all the signalling devices mentioned in this article It could be argued that this is a window of opportunity for installers for some extra work but it will also be their responsibility to ensure their customers are informed and properly advised as to how they should signal their alarms to the monitoring station.

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