The PSTN Switch Off: What It Means For Business

Traditional PSTN Phone

Are you aware of the UK’s commitment to switch off the public switch telephone network (PSTN) by 2025?

Surveys show as much as a third of small businesses are completely unaware of this impending change following the PSTN switch off.

The PSTN and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) are scheduled to be switched off in 2025.

This will greatly impact individuals and businesses as these telephony networks are the very framework that provides phone services. As well as alarms, EPOS machines, CCTV, and even door entry systems among other things.

The Terms You Need To Know

PSTN: The public switch telephone network is the system that enables landline connectivity. This system works due to an extensive network of copper wires which connects users across the country. But the technology was first implemented in the latter half of the 1800s.

While the technology has adapted and developed over time, this system has become increasingly outdated in recent years by introducing fibre-optic broadband and the various features that can function through the internet.

ISDN: The integrated service digital network was the foundational system that brought high-speed internet connectivity across the country and into homes in the 90s.

It effectively revolutionised how people connected to the internet.

VoIP: Voice over internet protocol essentially moves away from the physical, copper wired network and converts the whole process to digital by utilising the internet.

In practice, it is not much different to PSTN or ISDN, but it brings with it a range of advantages and benefits over outdated phone lines.

What is the PSTN Switch Off?

British Telecom, or BT, is shutting down the Openreach services of PSTN and ISDN by 2025 and switching everyone over to using digital services instead. 

This change comes in order to save on the massive expenses which go towards maintaining and repairing the legacy systems, while allowing for more time and investment to be put into the IP services instead.

This change actually began in 2020 when BT stopped selling new services on the old networks in order to gradually phase out the systems which will be obsolete in just a few short years.

This will impact everyone to some degree as services are updated and changes are made. Yet, the biggest impact is expected to hit businesses that rely heavily on telephony services and those that use fax machines. 

And What About The Benefits?

A significant 40% of the UK market already recognise a number of key benefits the switch will provide.

While changing over will be a unique challenge for everyone depending on their needs, there are several benefits that will likely impact any growing business.

The costs of these services will be lower. As a result of the system being more easily monitored and controlled and no reliance on massive trans-oceanic cables to be in top working order, VoIP will pave the way for a cheaper alternative to PSTN or ISDN.

VoIP also creates an easier way to analyse and track statistics of usage and other important data. Giving businesses a clear idea of who they are communicating with and how to deliver their services via voice communications best.

Upgrading and changing the systems used by a business also becomes much simpler to upgrade additional features. Rather than needing to set up physical networks for individual businesses that allow internal calling and re-routing calls or diverting calls, these features can be easily added or removed without the need for a physical network.

And finally, it will offer improved scalability and mobility for businesses. As they grow, their virtual networks can grow and move with them.

When and What Should I Do to Be Ready?

The PSTN switch-off date may appear far off now, but it is less than 4 years until the network is entirely shut down. The old adage, ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail” springs to mind.

You don’t want to be caught out when the time arrives for the switch and your business suffer because the proper systems are not in place.

BT offers a short guide on some of the things you can do to prepare, but largely, it comes down to three things.

1. Make sure you have sufficient internet connectivity. 

Now more than ever, having a sturdy and robust internet connection with the highest speed available is vital. There are very few businesses that operate without the internet. And as this technology advances, it will only become more integral.

2. Find out what in your business is using PSTN or ISDN.

It is not just for phone calls, these systems are responsible for a range of other functions from the till systems to the door alarms. 

Making sure that these systems have a way to operate is vital. Check how they are currently functioning and how you will adapt or replace them to work with IP.

3. Make a plan and continue to review it.

2025 is set in stone, so a plan for how you will approach it needs to be outlined now. But that does not mean that your plans can’t change and you cant improve the way you operate as more information becomes available. 

Adept provides a range of services and expertise that will help you navigate the upcoming changes, so it may be best to see what services you need. 

Start Now

The changes are coming quickly and every new business that pops up is getting a head start. If you need help with how your business will work towards the PSTN switch off, get in touch and we would love to explore the best options for you.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager