BT announced some time back that it intends to disconnect all PSTN and ISDN phone lines – this is scheduled for December 2025. There are several reasons behind the transition, such as reducing expenditure on services that are costly and complex to maintain, particularly older phone connections.
Conventional copper-wired phones have been superseded by faster, more agile and cheaper technologies. While around 14 million lines will be affected, BT indicates that removing these will free up the capacity to invest in modern replacements.
Here, the Maximum Networks team explains how the analogue switchover could impact your business, the potential alternatives to consider, and why it makes sense to start planning now rather than waiting to take action.
What Will Happen When PSTN and ISDN Lines Are Switched Off?
One of the important factors is that while the final switch-off is scheduled for 2025, this may vary by region. Some areas and cities will see their lines transferred over to fibre much sooner, with some planned for the end of 2023.
Broadband and phone systems using old copper wired networks will no longer be available to buy from September 2023, with the PSTN due to be switched off entirely in 2025. The changeover is expected to happen extremely fast, with all calls made from a home or business due to be internet-hosted by 1st January 2026.
Businesses that have Openreach plans will be automatically transferred without any major service interruptions anticipated. However, there are plenty of things that could go wrong and multiple aspects of business connectivity infrastructure that will undoubtedly be affected, including:
- Alarm systems
- Card payment machines
- Emergency lift alarms
- Fax machines
- Care and fall alarms
- Lone worker and panic alarms
- Textphones and amplified phone lines
Where these services rely on a live phone connection, they will need to be rerouted or transferred to an alternative system in advance of your switch-off, which for many will be sooner than they might expect.
Healthcare organisations such as care homes and home care agencies will certainly need to look at their telecoms and decide on the right way forward.
If you do not have any systems or alarms routed through your phones, you could decide to sit tight and hope that your call packages and line rental charges will remain the same – but this is looking unlikely due to the cost of fibre technology.
Alternatives to Traditional Wired Phone Lines
The positive news is that there is a broad array of advanced, high-functionality and scalable alternatives to conventional wired phone systems engineered to meet the needs of busy, growing and diverse organisations, particularly those engaged in remote and hybrid work structures or where colleagues need to communicate from different sites.
VoIP Phone Systems
VoIP phones are one of the most popular replacements for a copper-wired phone system and use an internet connection, rather than cabling, to establish connections through an IP network. There are multiple benefits, such as easy integration with existing mobiles, internet-connected phones and devices.
Non-hosted VoIP phones are supplied as hardware, which means the business is responsible for any maintenance, repair works and changes to their service. This option requires the requisite in-house knowledge to maintain the system alongside a reliable internet connection.
Cloud-Based Hosted VoIP Phones
A hosted system works as described, but means the maintenance, upgrades and system updates are delegated to your telecoms or IT service provider. Maximum Networks can manage the initial setup and integrations and handle any changes to demand or upgrades if you need additional lines or to add new call-handling features.
The remote nature of cloud based phone systems is well suited to remote working, meaning you can make and receive calls, video calls and conference calls from any location and do not need to be sitting at a desk to make a work-related call.
Hosted PBX Systems
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems utilise technology such as VoIP but integrate all of the communication channels used by a business into one secure and private network. Internal users can communicate directly or make and receive external calls through their choice of device or system.
Calls between system users are typically cost-free; you can add as many lines as you wish and introduce functionality such as interactive voice menus, call transfer, call recording, call queuing and voicemail.
When Is the Right Time to Transition From PSTN Business Phones?
As we’ve mentioned, the switch-off publicised for 2025 may impact your business or organisation sooner rather than later, with trials to see how the transition to fibre works scheduled for as early as this year in some areas.
There is a risk that leaving it too late may also mean other systems, such as intruder alarms and accessible connectivity devices, will stop functioning when the switchover impacts your region, making an audit of all devices and services operating through your phone line essential.
Many businesses have already made the move to a digital phone service, with cloud-based systems providing reduced call costs and greater flexibility to customise your telecoms and integrations based on your requirements.
Why Transition Away From Copper-Wired Phones Before 2025?
It may become more complex and costly to transition to a digital phone system the closer we get to the switch-off. Acting now will ensure you have plenty of time to explore the options, compare providers, investigate the impacts on your security and internal systems, and research the functionality now available.
Some companies have also implemented a phased approach to stagger the costs of investing in new hardware. You might, for example, upgrade phones to a hosted VoIP system, replace phone-connected card machines and tills in the coming months, and then consider whether a full-scope PBX system would be a better way to manage your VoIP phone lines longer term.
If you would like any advice about preparing for the switch-off, understanding which devices and services this might affect, or choosing the most appropriate upgrades, please contact Maximum Networks at any time.