The UK’s phone network has been gradually upgraded over the years, but many businesses still rely on the ageing, analogue, public switched telephone network (PSTN) for their phone operations.
By 2025, this will be replaced by digital phone services, more technically known as internet protocol (IP) or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) which enable phone calls to be carried out over the internet.
This means that businesses have until the end of 2025 to switch to IP calling or see their phone systems become obsolete and unsupported.
IP phone services operate using packet switching. This means when you speak into an IP phone, your voice is compressed into a digital signal, which is broken up into packets that are sent to your internet router. These packets are then sent over the internet via the most efficient path to the person on the other end of the line.
The switch from PSTN to IP is more than just a change in standard that is necessary to keep the phones on. It’s a major move in digital transformation that brings business phone networks to the cloud and will allow businesses to make use of all the flexibility and insight that comes with it.
Many businesses have already embraced this new way of making calls, but those who haven't yet made the switch may wonder what benefits IP can offer.
More effective security solutions
Many businesses use their phone lines for more purposes than calls, with alarm systems being a notable example. When the PSTN switch-off happens in 2025, firms that rely on their legacy security systems could be left unprotected.
Luckily, IP is not only capable of fulfilling the same roles as the PSTN with regards to alarm systems — it’s also a marked improvement. Because PSTN relies on establishing a direct connection via a copper phone line, alarms connected to the PSTN must first phone an alarm monitoring centre when tripped. This can lead to a delayed response by private security or emergency services.
In contrast, IP can establish a connection in seconds over the internet and simultaneously notify security personnel via notifications to their handsets.
Scalability without added installation cost
Because IP is hosted in the cloud, it’s also a flexible and scalable solution. If you’re looking to supply your startup with a phone system, this is ideal. Start with a small number of phones connected to the network and expand as your business grows, without the need for additional connections to be installed.
We offer a range of packages to suit the needs of your business, covering the users on your phone system, the bandwidth, and extra features — ensuring that you only pay what you need while always having the option of expansion at hand.
As IP calls are routed over the cloud, those on the call can connect in a number of ways. Employees could dial in on an IP phone or their own smartphone, but also through their laptop, desktop, or tablet. This means that calls can be both audio and video.
Additionally, BT has worked with Cisco to integrate the latter’s Webex package into its digital phone service offering, bringing high quality video with automatic transcription to conference calls. Webex also allows users to connect their calls to productivity apps such as Microsoft Teams.
If you’re a business based in a number of locations, video conferencing can help your team to feel connected, heard, and seen. With IP calling, employees can engage with meetings and client calls in the way that best fits the situation.
Flexible costs for each business
Whenever there is a change to a new way of working, business leaders will question whether the cost of switching outweighs the benefits. With IP calls, plans can cost as little as half as much from day one as they run over an internet connection, which the vast majority of businesses already have. All you need to buy is the phones themselves.
In addition, IP services receive regular updates free of charge, a far cry from the slow and expensive maintenance cycles that businesses have endured with PSTN phone systems for decades.
A shared phone system for remote work
Because IP phone services work over the cloud, businesses are no longer limited by physical restrictions for their phone systems. Remote working employees can be routed into the shared business network to ensure that they’re just as productive in their home office as they are at their desks.
Calls can even be automatically switched from an office handset to an employee’s business smartphone when they step off the premises, ensuring that businesses can continue to offer great customer service without being tethered to just one site at a time.
Detailed call analytics
Another benefit of IP is the analytical insight that one can gather from calls made through the cloud. Businesses with IP phone systems can leverage data on calls made and received, and investigate detailed trends on both customer and team metrics. This could be ideal for a company launching a new marketing drive via phone, providing easy to access data on how long customers stay on the phone on average and what times of day produce the best engagement.
On a larger scale, it can benefit businesses running call centres and IT support hotlines, with real-time information on incoming calls allowing managers to run their department efficiently and ensure customers are receiving the best phone service possible.