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mssedin
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Will the VM network give me 1 hour in a power cut?

About 80,000 of us in South Edinburgh had a 40 minute power outage last night.  I noticed my mobile signal was lost too. Since I’d recently moved my home phone to Vonage VOIP, my wife wasn’t too impressed with the lack of robustness i.e. no way to contact Emergency services if needed.

Chatting to others on the mobile forum, I learned that most mobile masts do not have power backup systems. Hence my loss of mobile signal.  Not very robust then.

I am wondering now if/why I should lose my cable/fibre connection.  Reading around I discovered:

"Virgin Media supplies power from its street cabinets and BT from its exchanges, the former typically having batteries capable of maintaining service for several hours, and the latter's back-up power typically sufficient for power cuts lasting several days or more."

Delving further I found Ofcom guidance from 2018 stating:

In December 2011, Ofcom published revised guidelines on how providers supplying voice services over Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) networks could meet the requirements of the General Conditions (the 2011 Guidance).5 The 2011 Guidance consisted of three principles which applied to both new-build and ‘overlay’ FTTP deployments:

  1. A battery back-up should always be provided to support publicly available telephone services (PATS) provided over FTTP.
  2. The minimum duration of the back-up facility should be 1 hour.
  3. Providers should take appropriate steps to ensure that the needs of consumers requiring additional protection, and who depend on 999/112 to a greater extent than the majority of the population, are addressed.

Q1: If my Hub 3 router had been on an appropriately beefy UPS system it should have kept working  for an hour and kept my VOIP phone line working – right?

Q2: Is there a robustness difference between my current cable connection and the new fibre ones rolling out?  Fibre requires less power so lasts longer on backup?

Bottom line is I'm wondering if I should go to the additional expense of buying a UPS to keep the router alive for 1 hour during such situations, since the mobile networks are obviously so unreliable.  Sure, UK power outages don’t happen very often, but when they do, most last less than an hour.

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JitteryPinger
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Re: Will the VM network give me 1 hour in a power cut?

So as it stands Virgin's services would also go out in power outages, however Virgin does supply a backup service to some customers where they qualify.

Its generally expected that mobile phones would stay online, at least with emergency service however it seems like the outage last night took everything out.

The backup service from Virgin uses mobile signals, BT's services would generally stay online through power from exchange but that all changing over the coming years and phone services are now typically being supplied using Broadband services, BT's fiber cabinets generally have backup batteries but if these work, have been kept maintained or even stolen is another story.

I'm going to say that should the same power outage as last night happens again that you will e reduced to level of service you had last night regardless of provider or services.

If someone at the grid wants to knock us off for an hour or two I can go check all the networks lol 😄

If I've helped please let me know 🙂 Matt

A 10+ Year Virgin Media veteran, been here through the Up's and the Down's and Down's....
Vodafone 5G EE BQM Hub 4 BQM Hub 3 BQM Hitron CGNV4 BQM TT BQM

Technical Support - AV & Networking - Customer Service - Finance - Culinary - Construction
nodrogd
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Re: Will the VM network give me 1 hour in a power cut?


@mssedin wrote:

I am wondering now if/why I should lose my cable/fibre connection.  Reading around I discovered:

"Virgin Media supplies power from its street cabinets and BT from its exchanges, the former typically having batteries capable of maintaining service for several hours, and the latter's back-up power typically sufficient for power cuts lasting several days or more."

Backup power is only utilised to keep the legacy landlines running, via huge banks of batteries in the Node cabinets. In Hybrid Fibre Coax networks (which is the majority of Virgins network) these nodes also drive 10 to 20 slave cabinets via coax. These require powered mains amplifiers every 300 to 500 metres from the node cabinet. There are 4 to 6 of these per node & the backup power required would be immense to power them for 1 hour. Hence only the POTS lines are powered, as these don't require amplification.

Delving further I found Ofcom guidance from 2018 stating:

In December 2011, Ofcom published revised guidelines on how providers supplying voice services over Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) networks could meet the requirements of the General Conditions (the 2011 Guidance).5 The 2011 Guidance consisted of three principles which applied to both new-build and ‘overlay’ FTTP deployments:

  1. A battery back-up should always be provided to support publicly available telephone services (PATS) provided over FTTP.
  2. The minimum duration of the back-up facility should be 1 hour.
  3. Providers should take appropriate steps to ensure that the needs of consumers requiring additional protection, and who depend on 999/112 to a greater extent than the majority of the population, are addressed.
    The above has now been superseded owing to the proliferation of mobile phones now in use. The requirement is now to have an emergency backup that allows access to emergency services only via the mobile phone network.

    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-2/access-emergency-organisations-powe... 

Q1: If my Hub 3 router had been on an appropriately beefy UPS system it should have kept working  for an hour and kept my VOIP phone line working – right?

If you are on Virgin's full fibre (RFoG) network possibly, if the node was in an area where the power was still on. In an HFC area both the Node & all the intermediate amplifiers would still require a mains supply to operate.

Q2: Is there a robustness difference between my current cable connection and the new fibre ones rolling out?  Fibre requires less power so lasts longer on backup?

No battery backups are being installed in the new systems, which cuts down on the street furniture considerably.

Bottom line is I'm wondering if I should go to the additional expense of buying a UPS to keep the router alive for 1 hour during such situations, since the mobile networks are obviously so unreliable.  Sure, UK power outages don’t happen very often, but when they do, most last less than an hour.

As per the explanations above, it will depend what areas are affected by the cut. If you rely on an amplifier in a cabinet on an adjacent estate, you will lose your service even if the power remains on where you are. Our node cabinet is 1.2km away, via 2 mains powered coax amp cabs. If any of these lose power we lose service on all but the bog standard POTS landline.


 

Virgin BB TV Landline. Freeview/Freesat HD, Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile. Cable customer since 1993

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JitteryPinger
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Re: Will the VM network give me 1 hour in a power cut?

May I just add that POTS lines go down when power is cut too in many areas.

If I've helped please let me know 🙂 Matt

A 10+ Year Virgin Media veteran, been here through the Up's and the Down's and Down's....
Vodafone 5G EE BQM Hub 4 BQM Hub 3 BQM Hitron CGNV4 BQM TT BQM

Technical Support - AV & Networking - Customer Service - Finance - Culinary - Construction
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Roger_Gooner
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Re: Will the VM network give me 1 hour in a power cut?

My main mobile phone is on VM (using EE), my backup phone is on Giffgaff (O2). I also have a traditional landline. I can't think of better way of being able to make calls in an outage.

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