How to ensure your business is ahead of the switch-off curve

How to ensure your business is ahead of the switch-off curve

Openreach has served notice that it will switch off analogue PSTN and ISDN telephone services in 2025. Therefore, UK businesses need to start preparing now, however distant 2025 might seem today. Dom Norton, Sales Director, Spitfire Network Services, explains the telecommunications options available to businesses.

Technology can often present itself as a challenge to your business and it is often technology that we use to find a solution. UK businesses are facing a huge telecommunications challenge due to the big analogue and ISDN switch-off in 2025. There are technologies that can help businesses to prepare for the big switch-off.

Switch-on to the switch-off

Perhaps you have been so distracted by headlines about the UK Government’s budget U-turns, energy prices, rising inflation or interest rate hikes, that you haven’t had time to think about future events in 2025. However, come 2025, we will see the end of all legacy analogue and ISDN telephone networks. The UK has relied upon a copper telephone network for nearly 150 years and this is no longer a viable option. Essentially, the infrastructure of the future will be a UK fibre network with all-IP traffic.

If you are a UK business, then you will likely be relying on analogue telephone services that use copper cable. Your office telephone handsets will be connected to your private branch exchange (PBX) using wall sockets. From this point, copper cables will run from your office to the local exchange, with calls thereafter routed to their terminal destination via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). This analogue network is no longer capable of delivering against the requirements of the future – Openreach has served notice that it will switch off analogue PSTN and ISDN telephone services in 2025. Therefore, UK businesses need to start preparing now, however distant 2025 might seem today. Does your business understand how the proposed switch-off will impact your day-to-day operations? Have you started to make arrangements in preparation for the proposed UK fibre network?

There are technologies that can help you to prepare your business for the big switch-off and, if you act today, ensure that your business can stay ahead of the big switch-off curve.

Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Perhaps your business has already started the migration over to all-IP voice services or VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). In essence, VoIP is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection – it’s basically making calls via the Internet rather than the traditional copper lines of the past. The introduction of Gigabit-capable, full fibre broadband has begun in the UK and is being rolled-out across the country as we speak. If your business already has a broadband Internet connection, it’s easy to add on a VoIP phone service and make calls. There’s no need to rent a line from a phone service and no complicated additional wiring. It can be as simple as plugging in your digital VoIP handset and you’re set to go. There are, of course, considerations that should be taken to achieve consistently good call quality and your service provider should be able to review the performance of your broadband connection and make appropriate recommendations to ensure it is suitable for VoIP calls.

If your business has been offered the option to ditch your traditional PSTN phone line altogether in favour of VoIP, then this would be a great move to make now. It keeps you ahead of the game with respect to 2025 and avoids any potential bottlenecks when many other businesses leave it too late, and all try to switch at the same time. The switch from analogue phone lines to VoIP is going to happen anyway, so why wait? With a broadband connection, it’s simple to add on VoIP services and keep your existing landline number.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) – SIP or cloud hosted?

When your business does make the move to VoIP telephony then there are currently two main options available – SIP Trunking or a Hosted (Cloud) Phone System. Both options allow calls to be made over the Internet. With SIP Trunking your business can make calls through your on-site Internet connection via your on-site PBX. If you go with a Hosted PBX solution, then you can switch your telephony system to a completely cloud-based solution – you don’t require any physical hardware for system management or to make and receive calls.

A hosted PBX fits in perfectly with the demands of the modern workforce – it is an ideal solution for larger businesses now relying more heavily on remote working. In this scenario, teams can stay in touch effectively with all calls made over VoIP. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can call from anywhere. At the other end of the scale with smaller SMEs, for example, a single-site retailer or a barber shop which might only be using one or two phone lines, then moving to a fully hosted solution is also an attractive option as typically you only pay for the capacity used. In both scenarios, a hosted PBX is relatively low cost, easy to manage and very scalable, allowing businesses of all sizes to grow without a communications headache.

It might seem a long way off but if you want to jump the queue then the technology is available today to prepare your business for the big switch-off in 2025. Get the ball rolling with VoIP and take the time to understand which PBX option suits your requirements the best. The switch-off needn’t be something to cause you sleepless nights.

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