When Openreach switches off the UK’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in 2025, all businesses and individuals will be migrated to an all-digital, internet-based system for communication.
PSTN is the traditional circuit-switched telephone network that has been in general use since the 1800s. While it’s been adapted over time, and now offers a combination of telephone lines, fibre optic cables, and cellular networks, it is no longer not enough to support our digital future. For this reason, we will be switching to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which will make all calls over the internet.
While getting set up with the right solutions to support voice-over-the-internet may initially be a daunting prospect, the fact is that in an increasingly digital world, the move to digital-first communications offers countless opportunities for businesses of all sizes.
By planning ahead and taking a strategic approach to the PSTN switch-off, here are five huge strides towards the digital transformation that your business can make, positioning yourselves as full participants in the digital economy.
1. A network for the digital workplace
In recent years, the way we work has undergone a monumental shift.
The global workforce has digitally transformed, with filing cabinets replaced by cloud-based databases. This has created new, streamlined ways of working, turning the office into more a frame of reference; the office is somewhere many of us used to go for the 9-5, but now it can be at home, in a café or in the garden.
For this increasingly digital, hybrid workplace and businesses, PSTN services have reached the limits of what they can currently offer. Both employees and customers are demanding greater online options, and Openreach’s new digital network is poised to help businesses rise and meet these demands head-on.
The analogue switch-off gives you an exciting opportunity for true digital change.
By planning strategically for the switch-off and taking a cross-functional approach that ties new technology in with long-term goals, businesses will be able to maximise the potential of an integrated infrastructure that combines connectivity, security, and voice.
2. Expanding or rationalising?
One of the major benefits of the national telecoms network being digitised is the flexibility it will deliver to businesses.
Session Initiation Protocols (SIP) Trunks are likely to be one of the primary methods of connecting to the network, and businesses leveraging this technology will be able to easily scale the number of channels up and down according to business need.
With the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), digital voice and data is carried over the PSTN by converting it into data. This means businesses have had to choose a set number of lines, which has meant they have often been paying for unused capacity on the off-chance there will be a spike in demand.
With SIP Trunks, if there’s a seasonal spike in business, it’s a quick and easy job to add more channels, and remove them as soon as the additional capacity is no longer required.
3. Numbers that move with you
Another benefit of the digital network is that businesses will no longer be bound by telephone numbers that are fixed to a specific location.
Any time your business moves offices, you’ll be able to take all your numbers with you, saving you money on the cost of call forwarding, new business stationery and the time spent letting your contact database know. There will also be little to no waiting time for additional lines or upgrades, so on-site engineering will become a thing of the past.
4. Unified Communication (UC) for the modern workplace
Workers have become increasingly mobile and expect to be able to connect seamlessly to colleagues and systems whether they are at home, in the office or on the road.
The new digital network supports businesses to create a hybrid workplace, and Unified Communications (UC) is likely to play a key role in the years ahead.
UC is the integration of telephony, video and audio conferencing, messaging, web and collaboration tools into one platform that can be accessed on any device, from anywhere in the world. With just a laptop and a wireless headset, even the smallest of businesses can leverage the same communications tools as the largest multinational corporations and begin serving their customers in the ways and places they want to be served. When paired with VoIP, UC routes video, voice, and data over one IP connection and provisions everything for a flexible monthly charge.
Add in line-rental savings of up to 70%, further savings on calls, resilience in case of disaster and 99.95% reliability, and it’s easy to see why UC is the great communications leveller for the hybrid age.
5. Quicker connections for better communication
The PSTN switch-off is a golden opportunity for every business to reimagine the way they connect. From SIP Trunks and VoIP to UC and a myriad of other cloud-based tools and solutions, the new digital network will deliver not only faster speeds and greater resilience, but efficiency, reliability and often massive cost savings.
With the right technology partner, even the smallest of businesses will be empowered to future proof their infrastructure, drive towards greater sustainability and deliver seamless experiences for customers and teams alike.
Preparing for the PSTN switch-off
In order to unlock these benefits and prepare for the PTSN switch-off, you need to ensure that your business is ready for VoIP.
Although VoIP doesn’t use very much data compared to other services like video, you need to ensure that your bandwidth has the capability to deliver voice on top of everything else your office does.
While there are different recommendations as to optimum bandwidth for VoIP, the bandwidth you need depends on your individual needs as an organisation and if you don’t have enough bandwidth then you could experience poor audio quality or intermittent service as a result.
To best prepare your business, you should consider migrating to VoIP sooner rather than later. This is because ISDN is now being viewed as a legacy platform, and investment is likely to fall.
Ultimately, although the PSTN switch-off may seem like it’s in the distant future, the core network changes are happening now. Make sure your business is ready for the switch by learning everything you need to know about this change and revise your business infrastructure.
Get switched on about the Switch-Off
Learn everything you need to know about the PSTN switch-off and how your business can prepare for the change by reading ‘PSTN Switch-Off: Information Hub’ now.