The traditional copper-wire telephone network in parliament that dates back to 140 years ago when Alexander Graham Bell created the system is going to be phased out within the next eight months. This is because replacement parts for the system are no longer being made. Instead MP’s and peers will be migrated to a VoIP based telephone system with the option to connect to the system using handsets that are designed like traditional telephones.
Existing system can no longer be supported
The decision was made to switch to a VoIP system, the kind that BT is rolling out nationally after parliamentary authorities were told by officials that the Palace of Westminster’s copper network could no longer be supported. Earlier in the year BT announced that it too intends to phase out its traditional phone network nationally by the year 2025 and will replace it with a fibre optic powered VoIP system instead.
The decision was to be put to a vote
MP’s and peers had been due to vote on a decision to move Parliament onto an internet-based communication system as part of a major refurbishment project. Now it would seem they have no other option but to bin the existing system since there is no company that is capable of maintaining it. The minutes of the House of Lords services meeting in May reveal that the committee had not been asked to make a decision on whether to migrate the copper-wire network to a fibre-based VoIP system because no supplier could be found for copper wire technology.
The procurement process attracted no bids
The procurement process failed with no bids being placed to support the present copper wire system which effectively means there is simply no longer any alternative to VoIP. Peers were also made aware that the present system was both old and insecure and replacement parts and copper wiring had become almost impossible to source. Officials concluded by saying they could not be confident that the system could be revived should it break down.
New functionality will be added
MP’s and peers have been reassured that they will continue to have the option to use a traditional handset in the traditional sense of the telephone under the new VoIP bases system which will be rolled out by March next year. The handsets would be connected to computer network instead of a telephone network. Officials say the new system will be secure and protect against eavesdropping and would also facilitate advanced features such as virtual meetings through video conferencing.