The telecommunications industry has changed drastically over the last decade with massive amounts of communications moving to the internet. This has facilitated the development of a wide range of new technologies, which has opened amazing potential for all of us living and working in the modern world. That said, all of these new developments require resources to implement, maintain, and grow, which means some antiquated systems will need to be phased out.
Understanding Traditional Systems
Since the advent of the telephone, public utility companies have built a communication system requiring location-based physical equipment connected by wire and cables. This circuit-switched network is called the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
As digital technologies grew, the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) was established to transmit voice and data digitally instead of through analogue lines, which greatly improved quality and allowed the adding of new features. Common capabilities included voicemail, three-way calling, and caller ID. Other business systems such as door entry locks and point-of-sale technology could be connected into the wired communications network as well.
The growing PSTN and ISDN systems require significant resources to build, maintain, and repair on an ongoing basis, especially as new businesses and individuals require more services.
A Permanent Transition
As voice-over-internet (VoIP) has increased in popularity, a parallel telecommunications system has grown up. This cloud-based telephony does not need physical telephone equipment at each location, shifting the resources to maintain the system from technicians who understand physical wiring of the old system to IT cloud-based systems experts.
As more individuals and businesses make the shift to the faster, higher quality, integrated cloud-based telephony system, it’s logical that the antiquated PSTN and ISDN infrastructure should be phased out. The bottom line is that the old networks can simply not support the speed and scalability that companies require to stay competitive in today’s market, regardless of industry.
In 2015, BT Openreach announced this planned phase-out and the ceasing of investing money, labour and other resources into this old system. The organisation began shutting down networks in 2020 and will stop taking new orders starting in 2023. By December 2025, the PSTN and ISDN will be permanently closed.
The company encourages both individuals and businesses to migrate to all-digital communications such as cloud telephony, hosted PBX and other internet-based communication systems.
The Implications for Daily Life
It’s important to remember that this PSTN and ISDN shut-off will not only affect landline telephones but also any personal or business systems that relied on the physical phone wiring and circuitry. This could include fax machines, security systems, closed-circuit television, and electronic point-of-sale machines.
For the 2.4 million companies in the United Kingdom still operating on the PSTN and ISDN system, the switch-off will greatly affect daily communications with suppliers, customers, and other business partners. It’s critical that these small, medium, and large organisations begin to develop a switch-over strategy and plan now to avoid major business disruptions.
Many manufacturers and vendors have introduced new end-point solutions to the market that will allow individuals and businesses to retain the same functionality they have now after the permanent switch-off occurs. However, organisations will still need to determine what equipment needs to be replaced, plan for the purchasing of required components, and evaluate existing internet bandwidth. The actual implementation of a replacement system will also require time, testing, and troubleshooting. Ideally, this work happens in parallel so when the final switch-off occurs, business will continue as usual.
If you have not yet made the switch to internet-based telephony, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality, speed, and functionality of this new technology. Essentially, VoIP converts voice into digital data in order to send it over an internet connection. Traditional functionality of PTSN and ISDN systems such as caller ID, voicemail, and call forwarding are retained; landline phone numbers can also be kept.
However, internet-based telephony brings a host of new benefits to the individual and business communications landscape including:
- Computer Integration. VoIP software can be integrated with desktop computers so they can be used as softphones. As long as a computer or device has audio input and output capabilities, you can make and receive calls on these devices.
- Cost Savings. Because landline systems require physical equipment, they are more expensive to maintain and cost more to add users. Using the internet for calls eliminates that cost, which is especially important for international communications.
- Flat Fee. VoIP operates on a monthly fee, allowing for consistent budget planning and no unexpected high phone bills.
- Scalability. Businesses that are in growth mode can easily scale communications as they add employees and can also better manage peak seasons when more customers may be reaching out. Internet-based telephony is not limited to circuit-based telephony systems.
- Efficiency. Since VoIP offers enhanced functionality, employees can easily hold conference calls that can incorporate videos, photos, and documents during the meeting itself. This allows better use of time and people resources.
- Collaboration. Employees can share common calendars, presentations, and documents as well as reach colleagues faster through instant messaging capabilities. Project management and communications are seamlessly integrated into a unified communications platform.
- Accessibility. Since cloud-based VoIP systems allow communications to happen from any location using any device, employees have greater access to company systems and one another. In this age of remote, hybrid, and mobile work, this level of accessibility is critical to maintaining optimal productivity levels.
Evolve IP seamlessly integrates workplace technology to improve productivity, security, and end-user experience. We serve more than half a million users with a reach of 73 countries around the world. Reach out to discuss how we can help your organisation get ready for the PTSN 2025 switch-off today as well as reap the benefits of cloud-based telephony and unified communication technology tomorrow.