While the UK is set to fully switch off the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in 2025, other countries have already forged ahead and withdrawn PSTN in order to meet the demands of businesses today.
A host of European countries such as the Netherlands, Estonia, and Germany have switched to IP phone networks, with Norway, Spain and Portugal not far behind. Further afield, Singapore has already switched off PSTN, with Japan and Australia targeting completion dates within the next 2-3 years.
With several countries already retiring or in the process of retiring their copper line networks, what learnings can be taken onboard for the UK’s own move towards VoIP and digital phone lines?
How Has the UK Learnt From Other Network Migrations?
Switching the country from PSTN to digital IP networks has been a long process for BT, with the initial announcement coming as far back as November 2017.
Germany’s Deutsche Telecom learnt from their smaller network operations in Croatia and Slovakia before migrating PSTN services in Germany. Estonia also took a gradual approach and switched off their copper-based network over a three-year process. Similarly, two years prior to the switch off date, from April 2023, the UK has commenced phasing out PSTN in the Salisbury and Mildenhall area exchanges.
In Spain and Portugal migrations have been aided by the high competition between fibre-based and ultrafast broadband services. In the UK, Openreach has been steadily expanding Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and is aiming to deliver ultrafast fibre to up to 25 million premises by the end of 2026.
These improvements will ensure a speedier, more reliable network where Cloud-based digital communications can further grow and flourish.
Argentina have just announced the sunsetting of their copper network, however no timeline has been given as yet. With communication changes this large, it makes sense to move methodically, as the UK has been doing, so no one gets left behind.
Understand What Might Be Affected By The Switch Off
Recent rises in remote and hybrid working mean that businesses in the UK are now far better equipped and ready for these upcoming changes than perhaps countries who switched much earlier on.
While the switch to digital lines and VoIP phone systems will bring a host of advantages to businesses, it is still important to take note of what other services may need additional consideration ahead of your move. For example, some alarm systems or restaurant card machines may still utilise copper landline connections.
Some newer alarm system solutions however, are designed to utilise cellular communication modules or IP communicators instead of traditional phone lines. There are even existing models that allow you to upgrade just the communication module instead of upgrading to a new system. Ensure you speak to your providers to get the solution that’s best suited to combine with a reliable VoIP solution and best for your business.
Discover your alternatives to landline phones ahead of the 2025 switch off and get ahead of the pack today.
Decide What Features You Require When Migrating
More and more businesses are accustomed to Cloud solutions and remote collaboration than ever before. VoIP systems were widely adopted as a result of the surge in remote working over the last few years. Our own Cloud phone system handles in excess of 20 million average managed calls a month, so you can be sure VoIP is no longer the new kid on the block.
As an organisation, this is your opportunity to improve your existing business communications. Cloud-based VoIP solutions open up a host of features that may otherwise have either been too costly or required specialist knowledge to set up.
This means that it’s a great time to consider whether your customers would benefit from an in-call menu that directs them to the department they need in just a matter of minutes. Could staff benefit from real-time call monitoring where new starters are able to be mentored and assisted live on a call?
Deciding what your business requirements are now will allow you to move at your own pace, lay future groundwork and find the right solution for you.
The possibilities with VoIP are continually growing and it’s an exciting time to take a step into its digital possibilities.
Migrating Phone Systems Needn’t Be a Years Long Process
While global country-wide migrations to digital phone lines have taken a multi-year approach, the process for switching your business from PSTN to VoIP needn’t take anywhere near as long.
Due to the flexibility and scalability associated with Voice over IP phone systems, VoIP providers can seamlessly migrate existing PSTN phone numbers via an online process, without the threat of existing lines experiencing any downtime.
Moving early means freeing up budget that would have been spent maintaining soon-to-be defunct technology. Upgrading in advance also ensures that you can make the most of the extra features and versatility that IP communications provides. The PSTN switch off is a catalyst for change and it will further the delivery of new technology to your teams, improving collaboration and connection wherever they’re based.
From the increase in faster FTTP connections across the country, through to the availability of comprehensive Cloud solutions and VoIP phone systems to businesses nationwide, you can be confident that upgrading your company to a digital phone line will be a beneficial move towards the future. Take Jersey for example, which switched from PSTN early, and underpinned this with full fibre rollout, they soon found that they were subsequently able to offer better quality services at a faster pace as a result.
So, while you might need to take some time to consider which Cloud-based VoIP solution is the best fit for your company in our ever connected and competitive world, there’s no reason to put change on hold, and no reason not to hang up on PSTN.