The Big Switch Off 2025: what’s happening, why is it happening and what does it mean for your business?

Significant changes are coming to business communications and you need to be ready for them.

Back in 2015, BT announced that they will be switching off both the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) in 2025. This will mark the biggest shift in the telecoms industry for over three decades . . . think along the lines of the switch from analogue to digital in TV that completed in 2012.

This means that in less than three years, traditional telephone technology will be a thing of the past for homes and businesses, switched out for an internet-based connection instead. But what does this mean for your daily operations, connections and communications?

Businesses are understandably seeking answers about the Big Switch Off 2025, and we’re here to provide them. Let’s take a closer look at what the Big Switch Off 2025 will mean for business owners, how it will work, and what you need to do now in order to prepare your brand effectively.

What is the Big Switch Off 2025?

Despite being advertised as a 2025 event, the Big Switch Off won’t be a sudden change. Instead, it refers to the gradual phasing out of both BT’s PSTN and ISDN. A staggered approach allows businesses and homes time to get used to the changes as they occur, but it also means that your organisation needs to start acting now in order to be fully prepared.

As part of the Big Switch Off, homeowners and businesses will no longer have the ability to acquire PSTN and ISDN after September 2023 – less than a year from now. This comes ahead of both networks being completely shut off in 2025.

The transition will bring an end to the use of analogue and digital phone lines in the UK. In its place, businesses will be required to migrate to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which allows for voice calls to be made via an internet connection.

Reliable internet connection is now available across much of the UK, so the change should provide cheaper and clearer phone calls for everyone, as well as a raft of new technology.

ISDN: what is it and why is it being switched off?

At the time of its conception, the PSTN was revolutionary. It is the now familiar landline telephone system which was set up to enable analogue voice communication between homes and businesses. PSTN is a network of copper cables which allows voice and data to travel over circuit-switched phone lines.

For years, it has been the most reliable way to make voice calls and share internet activity around the world. Then came ISDN, which replaced the original PSTN to transmit not only voice, but video and other services digitally. Since its introduction in 1986, it has improved significantly, but the network itself remains largely unchanged, still relying on the original setup used for phone lines in the 1800s.

As such, existing telecoms systems are now outdated. Broadband internet speeds have reached such heights that ISDN cannot compete. Over the last five years, usage of ISDN has dropped by more than 30%. These legacy systems are therefore racking up higher maintenance and running costs without much benefit.

Understanding VoIP technology

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the next phase in telecoms technology. It allows for voice calls to be made using computers and mobile devices with an internet connection. You can communicate by voice/video/message on any device in any location without being tied to fixed lines in specific locations

While mobile phone usage is extremely common today, most businesses still require an overarching telephone system. However, legacy technologies like ISDN and PSTN have become outdated and expensive, which is why VoIP has become the leading choice for organisations across many industries.

There are two choices for businesses when they make the inevitable switch to VoIP technology. These are:

On-premises VoIP systems

The platform must be installed and housed somewhere on your site, meaning both hardware and software is required. This can result in a higher initial setup cost, but also usually leads to lower monthly expenses in the long run. However, you will also be responsible for any maintenance costs. They also consume power at an estimated cost of £3000 per server.

Hosted VoIP systems

This is a full system based entirely in the cloud, hosted off site and typically including desk phones to connect you to your Local Area Network (LAN). Your provider is responsible for maintaining the technology and making sure the service runs smoothly, in return for a monthly fee from your business. The initial set-up and equipment costs associated with this approach are lower than when investing in on-premises VoIP, and any upgrades and maintenance will be handled by your provider, which should make things easier for your organisation. Importantly these solutions consume a fraction of the power that On-Premise system do.

What are the benefits of VoIP technology?

A lot of businesses will have already had VoIP systems in place for some time, but others are only just becoming aware of the need to upgrade their systems. It’s not too late, however, and businesses can still benefit from a number of key advantages by switching to VoIP from outdated ISDN and PSTN systems. These include:

  • Save on costs: VoIP provides businesses with cheaper calls and cheaper deals, which can include free calls between various sites and offices, and even free calls made internationally. They also deliver real energy consumption savings which also helps with a companies Net Zero objectives.
  • Improved functionality: Voice calls are only one aspect of VoIP, as your system will come with a range of functions such as video calling and instant messaging, all in one place.
  • Adaptable scalability: VoIP is flexible, meaning it can grow and shrink with your business as needed. You can add and remove new telephone lines swiftly and smoothly as your requirements shift.
  • Mobile compatibility: A cloud-based VoIP system means your users will be able to connect from wherever they are using a range of devices, including mobiles, tablets and laptops, making and receiving calls just as easily as they could in the office.
  • Integrations: A cloud-based VoIP system provides an integrated solution with Voice, Video, Contact Centre, chat, and API integration with hundreds of other business applications such as MS Teams, O365, Google Suite, Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite and ServiceNow.

When it first came to market, VoIP was criticised for being less reliable than ISDN or PSTN systems. However, over the years it has been improved significantly to provide greater call quality than its predecessors and surpassing traditional analogue phone lines in its capabilities.

What does the Big Switch Off mean for businesses?

Businesses need to start taking steps now in order to prepare for the Big Switch Off 2025 before they find themselves without a functioning phone system. These steps include checking that you have a strong and reliable internet connection, such as fibre broadband. If you don’t, now is the time to upgrade.

You should also find out when your contract is due to be renewed to get a clear idea of when you can make the switch. While renewing your current contract might seem easier in the short term, switching can save you both time and money.

Avoid investing in outdated hardware like traditional phone lines and desk phones. Instead, opt for a cloud telephone service that allows staff and clients to communicate from anywhere and from any device.

Consultiv Utilities can help make the switch as smooth as possible

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to making the switch to VoIP, Consultiv Utilities are here to help. We can work with you to determine the best unified communications solution for your organisation’s specific needs and preferences. We have access to what is available from all the various service delivery suppliers such as BT, Virgin Business, Talk-Talk Business, and many more.

Reach out to a member of our team today and find out how we can help you. Get in touch with the team at Consultiv Utilities.