By 2025, BT has announced that all analogue phone services will be terminated. Work has already begun on moving their customers from the analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Digital Service Network (ISDN) to a fully digital network. From 2025, all calls will be routed over Internet Protocol (IP) and BT stopped offering analogue services to new customers from 2020.
What is PSTN?
PSTN is a legacy platform for communication used since the 1800s, and more commonly known to you and I as a landline. It consists of a network of copper wires used to enable communication globally and is still used by many individuals and businesses today (although global usage figures are the lowest they have been in a century). PSTN has been the backbone of communication for over 100 years but as digital technology has advanced, has become somewhat of a relic, costly to maintain and approaching its use by date.
What is ISDN?
ISDN is undoubtedly the predecessor of the fast internet connectivity we enjoy today. Much like PSTN, it utilizes hard-wire phone connections, allowing businesses to send data such as images and voice calls at higher speeds than had ever been possible. First on the scene in the 1990s, it revolutionized the speed at which individuals and businesses could connect with each other.
Why are BT Switching Off Analogue Phone Services?
Quite frankly, technology has moved on immensely over the past two decades. Subscribers to analogue phone services are the lowest they have been in a century, with individuals and businesses increasingly using digital high speed services.
For most, the concept of a landline has become a redundant one, with multiple mobile phones across multiple family members, and unlimited calls, texts and data now the norm. High speed fibre-optic broadband has become commonplace, nudging traditional communication networks to the side.
The PSTN and ISDN networks are also costly to maintain, and with fewer people subscribing to them and paying a fee, the future of these networks has become unsustainable for BT. The technology is centuries old which means maintenance is costly, which pushes up the price for PSTN and ISBN customers who are paying a premium for a service which is not optimised for modern day business.
Who will the analogue switch off effect?
Anyone who uses traditional landline means of communication will be affected by the switch off. This includes over 2 million businesses in the UK alone. Most larger businesses have already gone through digital transformations (although over 30% still use some form of analogue communication), but many smaller businesses still rely on landline services. Particularly hard hit will be businesses who rely heavily on faxing of documents, and who will now need to find other ways to digitally transfer information.
The change will also affect any non-phone services which use the PSTN and ISDN networks. This can include things such as alarms, door entry systems, CCTV and even EPOS software. It’s important that BT customers consider all of the services that utilise these networks so they don’t get caught short when the switch off happens.
What are my options after the analogue switch off?
BT are generally pushing customers to use their Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions. VoIP is the process of routing phone calls over an internet connection, now widely used amongst businesses.
This means businesses can keep equipment such as fax machines and phones, with only the method of data transmission changing from PSTN or ISDN to IP. By opting for this solution, businesses can reduce the amount of disruption caused by the switch off.
Obviously a fax machine or phone can’t simply be plugged into a computer. In order to make these kinds of devices compatible with VoIP, they need to be plugged into an adaptor which converts the data into a format compatible with VoIP, which is then sent via an internet connection.
The switch off could however be a catalyst for change within businesses. Too often businesses continue to use antiquated systems simply because they work, when in fact, there may be better systems out there that will improve processes within the business. This forced change could be the perfect opportunity to explore new ways to communicate, not least utilizing cloud-communication.
What steps should I be taking to prepare for the switch off?
It’s important to think outside the box in relation to the switch off. You may think it will only affect your phone and fax services when in fact, other areas of the business could be using analogue lines of communication. As already mentioned, many alarm systems and door entry systems also use the analogue network, so there may be more considerations than first glance would suggest.
Eventura has been providing businesses with communication networks for over two decades. With our help and advice, you can make sure the analogue switch off doesn’t cause any disruption to your business. If you would like to speak to one of our experts, you can request a free call back here.