Your guide to the PSTN network switch-off

Your guide to the PSTN network switch-off

Big changes are coming for your phone lines when the country switches over to a new digital network by 2027.

What’s happening?

We’re moving all our customers from the old analogue public switched telephone network (PSTN) to a fully digital network. We’ve already started. We plan to have moved everyone over before Openreach stop the PSTN (and ISDN) service by 2027. By then, every phone line in the UK will be digital, routing calls over IP (Internet Protocol) rather than the traditional PSTN.

When you say ‘everyone…’

Yes. We mean everyone. Business and home. And it’s not just your phone services you need to think about. It’s everything else that currently uses the old phone network – all your non-voice services connected to PSTN or ISDN lines such as alarms, EPOS machines, door entry systems, CCTV, and faxes.

Sounds a bit drastic. Why are you doing it?

PSTN has been the backbone of the UK’s phone network for decades. But we’ve all seen the dramatic changes in technology over the past few years, especially recently. It’s all around us: smartphones, apps, the cloud, Zoom, Internet of Things, and so on.

What you probably don’t notice is the infrastructure that makes everything work. The telephone lines strung across the streets, the web of copper cables buried beneath you, some of which have been there since the 19th century.

So, IP is better than PSTN?

Yes. As an essentially 20th century technology, the PSTN network is increasingly out of kilter with the demands of modern communications. As people switch to mobile and internet communications, everyone demands much more than the traditional technologies were designed to deliver. It’s now time to leap forward from PSTN to IP and embrace the boundless possibilities of digital.

What about the rest of the world? What are they doing?

The switch to digital is happening everywhere, fast. As technology and customer behaviour changes, phone companies across the world are moving from analogue to digital. Germany, Japan, and Sweden are ahead of us in making the shift. Estonia and The Netherlands have already switched off their PSTN networks.

2027. That’s years away. Why are we talking about this now?

We need to start planning your move today because there could be a lot to do. Remember, it’s not just about calls. Everything connected to your phone lines, like door entry systems and alarms needs to reviewed. Many businesses have already embraced an all-digital model by moving their communications to the cloud, making calls over the internet, and embracing video conferencing.

Will we be better off with digital?

The move to all-digital isn’t just because the old phone system is old. It’s also because all-digital communications are so much better. Even at the basic level, you’ll be able to make and take calls on any device, from wherever you are on the same number. You’ll be able to link your business applications and systems to video chat, calls and collaboration, so you’re closer to customers and colleague. And, with everything stored in the cloud, you’ll be able to access your systems from anywhere and work from any location. 

Factor in the lower costs that IP can bring and it makes sense to get your skates on and go digital as soon as you can. There’s no need to wait until the last moment.

Sounds great. What do I do next?

Take a look at our five steps to digital checklist for some pointers.

Hold on, not so fast. I’m not convinced

That’s OK. We know there are a few scare stories out there about the PSTN switch-off. Ten myths about digital phone lines debunked should put you at ease.