In December of 2025, Openreach, the infrastructure behind BT, will end all telephone communications that operate by copper-based networks by turning off the PSTN (Public Services Telephone Network) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). This means your business can only connect with customers, staff, and stakeholders alike, via the internet. Read on to find out why this is happening, and how your business can prepare.
Since the 19th century, we’ve walked above nets of copper cables and by towering lines that allow us all to stay connected. The traditional telephone connects us far beyond its functionality; it’s a feeling of nostalgia. Knowing by heart the numbers of those important to us, scheduling phone calls for certain times so no one else would answer, or entangling ourselves, and everyone else, in curly cable while babbling round the house.
Although we’ve evolved far beyond the days of wired telephones and rotary dials, the PSTN (used since the 19th century for one-to-one calls) and ISDN, (a modern version of the PSTN mainly for business purposes) are still too outdated to keep up with modern day communications.
For this reason, the UK’s main telecommunications provider, BT, announced in 2015 that by December 2025, Openreach, will turn off both the PSTN and ISDN networks, meaning that every traditional landline phone that uses a copper wire, at home or in the office, will become obsolete and be replaced with a digital network, also known as Internet Protocol (IP).
What is Internet Protocol (IP)?
IP is a protocol, or set of rules, for routing and addressing data so that they can travel across networks and arrive at the correct destination. Anything IP-based uses the internet to connect networks either privately or publicly: mobile phones, tablets, computers, video conferencing applications such as Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp for Business and Slack.
Why it’s happening: Reasons behind the Switch Off
We understand that if you currently have a traditional phone set-up that works as you need it to, migrating your team to a digital network seems unnecessary, and above all, like extra work and possible expenditure that you hadn’t accounted for within your business. So, before jumping into what your business should do to transition to all-digital – let’s look at why it’s happening, and the benefits it will bring.
Prepare for the Future of Communications
Like many other pre-internet technologies, the traditional telephone has a shelf life. Since BT first announced the phasing out plans in 2015, many large UK corporations across the world have already migrated to an IP Network and 90% of IT companies in the UK plan to stop purchasing on-premise equipment and hardware by the end of 2021. The cost for an IT Provider to maintain a copper network that is unequivocally on its way out, means spare parts and hardware not only become scarce but more expensive. Similarly, IT providers (that’s us), engineers and internal training all point towards IP and fibre-optic broadband: the future of modern communications.
On a domestic level, think about the last time you picked up the house phone, if you still have one. In fact, the use of traditional landlines between 2012 and 2017 halved, while data usage via mobiles increased tenfold over the same period.
The imbalance of traditional telephony demand and shift in focus for the industry, lays it out plain and simple. The industry, businesses, and customers must look ahead at what will be, and already is, the future of communication.
Cost Savings and Scalability
One of the biggest benefits of VoIP technology (Voice over Internet Protocol) is the lowered costs, with small businesses saving 40% on local calls and 90% on international calls after switching to a VoIP phone service. Despite this, research shows that in the UK, around 2.4 million small to medium-sized businesses are still using PSTN or ISDN to operate.
It’s easy to forget what it can cost a business to connect with a customer or stakeholder internationally, over a standard landline, when you have Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp or Zoom at the click of a button. VoIP levels the playing field for small businesses by allowing them to accommodate business and customer demand, facilitating scalability and removing the burden of extra charges that may otherwise restrict business growth. And even if your business stays within the borders, the costs saved by using Cloud Phones are still vast.
Lastly, VoIP technology, by its very nature, enables remote and hybrid working options. Users can seamlessly switch between laptops, mobiles, or PCs without having to think about their connection or where they are working from, greatly enhancing your team’s flexibility.
If you haven’t already, your business should start considering a VOIP phone set-up, otherwise known as a Cloud phone.
A VoIP set-up does everything your traditional phone system does; it looks and feels like a normal phone and allows you to make, receive and transfer calls as you need – you won’t even notice the difference. The biggest change in functionality is that it runs over the Internet rather than a phone line, meaning that it normally works out cheaper each month than a traditional business phone set-up, whilst making it easier to take advantage of new functionality for remote working and call management.
Truthfully, the end of the humble telephone started years ago – but there are still a few years before it’s official. Whether you’re ready to switch or still considering the move, we can advise you and your business on what you will need when the day comes, whatever the circumstances.
We specialise in supporting IT for growing businesses. We know that all you need is for technology to make things easier for your business and we make this happen.
At a time when your customers expect great service, speed and reliability, you need the valuable people in your business to be engaged and capable of doing what you hired them to do. Not losing time and momentum to avoidable tasks or processes. More importantly than anything else at the moment, you need them to be safe.
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