What is the BT Switch-off and how will it affect my business?

You may have seen many headlines on this topic of late but as a business owner, do you need to be concerned? In this blog we aim to help you understand the switch and how best to prepare your business.

Back in 2015, BT announced that it will be switching off its PSTN and ISDN network by 2025 and it will no longer be possible to order new ISDN services from 2020.

Find out more information about Fixed Line and Telephony services from FCC

What are PSTN and ISDN and why are they being switched off?

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the traditional circuit switched telephone network which has been used since the late 1800s!

ISDN or Integrated Service Digital Network was first introduced in the 1980s. Running over the PSTN’s copper lines, it enables both voice and data services at the same time. It has served its purpose very well for the technology requirements to date but BT now want to invest in newer technologies rather than continuing to invest in legacy systems with high maintenance costs.

What alternatives are available?

The switch off is effectively making way for the next step in the evolution of telecommunications technology. BT plans to slowly phase out these legacy systems with the intention that all customers will then migrate to an IP network.

An IP system is way superior to what we have used to date. Instead of using fixed phones lines, it routes all calls and data services over the internet.

The main IP alternative systems available today are essentially VoIP or SIP.

VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol – runs over an internet connection. It is a virtual phone system which is not based in your office building, but can be based in a data centre anywhere in the world and your calls are routed in and out via the internet.

VoIP systems tend to be best suited to SME businesses who prefer fixed cost telephony with added functionality.

With SIP (Session Initiation Protocol ) telephone systems you will still have an on premise phone system but your calls are routed through SIP trunks over the internet, rather than an ISDN network.

SIP telephone systems are a good solution to businesses who already have an IP compatible phone system in place as this will negate the cost of installing a brand new system and are also better suited to the Enterprise businesses with a higher number of users and would therefore require a large number of handsets.

How can your business prepare for the switch-off?

Given that you still have 5 years before the switch-off, there is no need to do anything drastic immediately. However, you would definitely benefit from beginning to review your requirements and the available options now. Many believe that the cost of IP systems will increase dramatically after the switch-off, so you could save money by acting in advance.

The good news is that switching from ISDN to IP services will enable business to take advantage of the number of benefits these new systems can bring. Some of these benefits include:

  • Affordability
  • Costs effectiveness
  • Easy to maintain
  • Flexibility

Switching systems can also be relatively seamless and typically take around 10 working days. FCC recently enabled our client Cornelsen to upgrade to a VoIP system in under a week and they their business started benefitting from the additional functionality immediately (read the full Cornelsen case study here).

Our advice? Start looking your options as soon as possible. Not only are you more likely to beat the price increases, but you’ll also start benefiting from the added functionality and cost savings sooner rather than later.

Contact FCC on +44 (0) 1934 756 400 / Email sales@firstclasscomms.co.uk