What is the PSTN switch off?
Back in 2017, BT Openreach announced the PSTN switch off. But what does it mean? PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the switch off brings to an end the decades-old UK-wide analogue network. The switch off also includes the primitive 1990s-era Integrated Services Digital Network ISDN digital network.
Businesses make extensive use of PSTN and ISDN—they power:
- landline phone systems
- business-wide internal phone systems
- fax services
- alarm systems
- gate entry systems
- lift lines
- CCTV systems
- some internet connections
All of those PSTN and ISDN capabilities on which your business relies today, can’t be relied upon to work—or be available—after 2025.
The ‘switch off’ is actually something of a misnomer. The existing copper wires and fibre-optic cables will still be there. But they’ll be carrying digital signals, and their ability to transmit analogue signals will degrade over time, because the analogue network won’t be maintained. When something breaks in the analogue network, it won’t be repaired.
PSTN switch off date
The deadline for the PSTN switch off completion is 2025.
2025 isn’t the start of the process: in some parts of the country, the switch off has already happened, in the sense that new connections aren’t permitted. Later this year, and early next year, those locations will see existing PSTN and ISDN connections fully withdrawn.
When this was announced in 2017, few people took much notice: the date in question was 2025, seven years away. Now, though, 2025 is a lot closer—and businesses are starting to realise that they need to do something about it.
So what exactly should your business do to prepare for the switch off? Your business will have to go digital.
What should you do to prepare?
Put simply, it makes sense to not only start thinking about the PSTN and ISDN switch off now, but to actually make the switch to digital as soon as possible.
The capability exists now, and the opportunities offered by going digital are extensive.
Indeed, it’s the scale of those opportunities which largely propelled BT’s switch off decision in the first place. The PSTN and ISDN networks were increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain, but the higher bandwidth offered by digital technology simply enables businesses to do so much more.
Hybrid working, video calls, collaboration technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, improved video and voice quality, file-sharing, greater reliability, ease of integration in terms of instant messaging, social media, and CRM… the list is long.