Your communication provider should offer you a solution to make emergency calls in an event such as a power cut such as some form of battery backup or use of an alternative device such as a mobile or hybrid handset. You can also order devices from online stores such as Amazon that can help. This page will detail some more ways that can help in these situations.
Internet/VoIp systems rely on your mains power as it’s needed to power your router so the Internet connection can be established. The old PSTN system carried 50 volts down the copper line along with the analogue phone signal and the power was supplied down it from batteries and generators from your local exchange. As you move off the PSTN system you will no longer be able to power your household corded phones from the power supplied down the copper phone line.
This post will help you get some ideas on how you can make calls in situations such as power cuts or storms.
Alternative ways to power your digital landline or mobile during a power cut
If you are on Full Fibre (FTTP) you will need to have a backup power supply for your ONT as well as your Router and Household Phone Handset.
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) devices and Battery Backups
You can get equipment that can continue to supply power to devices such as routers (the box that connects you to the Internet) and household phone handsets.
There are a variety of these with different specifications out there which also range in price. Some can last for an hour or two based on load and some can last a bit more.
You can get these from online retailers such as Amazon or your communication provider may also offer you one.
There are UPS and battery backup devices that are DV rather than AC too. These may also last longer.
Communication and Altnet provider B4RN have written a good guide to powering Internet (VoIP) based voice services in a powercut:
How can I use my B4RN connection (and internet telephone) when there’s a power cut?
What can I do to keep my B4RN router operating during a power failure?
Thinkbroadband have also written a very good guide testing some products such as battery banks, UPS devices and Portable Power Stations with some of the common routers provided by communication providers. Thinkbroadband tests show that a battery bank can provide power to the router for several hours, for some routers they recommend using a battery bank with a AC inverter. If you are needing to provide power to the router for longer than half a day then a Portable Power Station is recommended. It’s well worth a read.
Some examples of UPS devices that are being used today:
- Portable Power stations (for longer periods without mains power)
There are devices that are mainly used when camping or without mains power for a while but are handy and can be used to power equipment when there is a longer power outage.
Some of these may also have the ability to add additional batteries or even have the capability for solar charging too.
These can be a bit more expensive but are available to order from online retailers such as Amazon.
Some examples that are being used today:
- SinKeu Portable Power Station,600Wh Solar Generator, Backup Mobile Lithium Battery with 230V/600W AC Outlet
- EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station RIVER, 288Wh Backup Lithium Battery with 2 x 600W (Peak 1200W) AC Outlets & LED Flashlight, Fast Charging Silent Solar Generator
- Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 500
- Portable battery banks
Having a few charged battery banks may be handy to charge or power devices that can be plugged in such as mobile handsets or some routers.
Some portable battery banks may even have the capability of solar charging.
These can be bought from online retailers such as Amazon.
Some example include:
- Anker 537
- Anker 737
- AC Outlet Portable Laptop Power Bank, Universal 31200mAh 100W Travel Laptop Charger
- Charged laptops
Having a charged laptop can also help you to power some devices such as mobiles if you need to make an emergency call when there’s no mains power and your phone battery is low.
Alternative ways to make calls
These devices will retain charge for some time but may need to be recharged during longer power outages.
A mobile phone would help you to make emergency calls when you can’t use your digital landline. Even when there’s little or no signal by your mobile operator an emergency call from your mobile will use any available mobile signal to establish the call.
Your communication provider may offer to supply you a mobile phone in order for you to have an alternative way to make emergency calls when in a power cut as an example.
- Hybrid handsets
Some communications providers are offering their customers a hybrid household phone handset that would automatically switch between connecting to the router they supply you and to the mobile network.
These are good for users that don’t have a mobile today and maybe offered by some communication providers to their customer so they can continue to make emergency calls when in a power cut as an example.
What OFCOM the regulator says
OFCOM the regulator states that communication providers must:
- Provide their customers with at least one solution to be able to make emergency calls during a power cut.
- The solution must last for at least an hour.
- If you are a vulnerable customer they should offer the solution for free.
For more information on OFCOM’s guidelines to communication providers on access to emergency services during a power cut please read:
Need extra help when there is a powercut?
If you need extra help or have a medical condition or medical equipment then the Priority Services Register is a free support service that makes sure extra help is available to people in vulnerable situations.
More information about the priority services register at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/get-help-your-supplier-priority-services-register
Priority Broadband Connection Repair for those with health conditions and vulnerable Customers
Those that rely on their broadband connection and digital landline service for medical and health reasons can apply to a priority repair scheme.
BT Consumer customers can sign up via: https://www.bt.com/help/landline/getting-set-up/help-people-with-impairments-or-with-particular-needs/i-rely-on-my-service-and-need-it-repaired-urgently
TalkTalk customer can sign up via: https://community.talktalk.co.uk/t5/Articles/Priority-Fault-Repair/ta-p/2204894
Virgin Media customers can sign up via: https://www.virginmedia.com/help/accessibility
Area where powercuts are common?
If you live in an area where powercuts are common it maybe best to invest in an alternative way to generate and store energy when the power supply from the mains grid is disrupted.
You can achieve this by getting solar panels or wind turbines installed on your property. You can store the energy until it is needed and also supply excess energy back to the grid. All this can dynamically switch between using the main grid to the power you have generated automatically.
You may have heard of Tesla’s Powerwall and Solar roofs. The concept of a powerwall is to store excess energy from either the grid or renewable sources such as solar panels. When the mains grid goes off the powerwall will automatically continue to supply the property with electricity.
Tesla Powerwall: https://www.tesla.com/en_gb/powerwall
There are other companies here in the UK that can offer similar products such as:
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