BSIA, TSA and FIA agree a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to reduce impact of telecoms changes on alarm systems

Alex Carmichael - BSIA Technical Director
Alex Carmichael - BSIA Technical Director

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA), the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Telecare Services Association (TSA) have agreed to work together to ensure that members of all three trade organisations are represented and supported in light of current telecommunication changes to both landline and mobile networks in the UK.

So-called ‘next generation networks’ (or NGNs) is a term referring to the current evolution of communication infrastructure in the UK, with the Government actively supporting the need to provide “super fast” broadband access across the UK by setting specific targets for its roll out. At the heart of this technology is an Internet Protocol (IP) based packet technology network. The use of this technology is enabling multiple services such as voice, Broadband, TV on demand and other value added services to the end-user.

NGNs are operated by communication providers, including companies such as BT, Cable & Wireless, Talk Talk and Sky. With many fire, security and social alarms depending upon the telecommunications network in order to process alarm signals, changes to these networks can result in signal failure, demonstrating the need for prior consultation with the fire, security and social alarm industries.

Alex Carmichael, Technical Director at the BSIA, provides some background to this issue: “The BSIA has conducted some previous testing with Sky on its Voice Broadband Network (SVBN), which is an IP technology based NGN. Whilst identifying an issue that affected digital communicators, testing revealed the problem and Sky reconfigured their software to resolve the issue. Whilst this is good news, it does highlight a wider problem with NGN providers changing their network designs, without consultation with industries like ours and the fire and social alarm industries.

“On the positive side, Sky continues to involve BSIA in sample testing of communications equipment when they are about to launch new software upgrades, however, it is imperative for all communications providers to offer the same opportunity, to enable BSIA, FIA and TSA members to prepare their systems for change, thus minimising the potential for signal failure.”

As such, the BSIA, FIA and TSA will endeavour to formulate a co-ordinated “one voice” approach for communicating with OFCOM and telecoms providers, to ensure consistency of message between all three organisations, and also to put the weight of the collective membership behind those communications. This positive development can only be good for the alarms industry and our customers.

Martin Duggan, General Manager at the FIA, concludes: “There are issues that need resolving and bringing the three organisations closer to work together makes complete sense and therefore has FIA’s full support.”

For more information on the BSIA’s NGN project, visit

BSIA Website