Prepare Your Business for the ISDN PSTN Switch Off

Published in Business by Content Team
the isdn pstn switch off

The ISDN PSTN Switch Off is expected but still shocking as for decades, businesses have relied on legacy telephone networks like PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) for their communication needs. PSTN refers to the traditional landline phone system that has been used since the late 19th century. ISDN came later as a digital upgrade to transfer data over the analogue PSTN network.

These systems have provided businesses with the infrastructure for basic voice calling, faxing, modems, credit card processing, alarm systems and more. However, the technology behind PSTN/ISDN is now outdated and costly to maintain. Major telecom providers like BT Openreach have announced plans for a complete ISDN PSTN Switch Off over the next few years.

This switch off will force businesses to migrate to more modern communication platforms. Companies that fail to prepare for this transition could face major disruptions to their operations and finances. In this blog post, we’ll break down everything business owners need to know about the upcoming ISDN/PSTN switch off and how to get ready.

The ISDN PSTN Switch Off

BT Openreach has announced that the PSTN network in the UK will be switched off completely by December 2025. The older ISDN networks will also cease to function at the same time.

This switch off is happening because the outdated infrastructure behind PSTN/ISDN makes it difficult and expensive to maintain and upgrade. Openreach aims to transition all voice and data services over to digital networks based on fiber optic cables and Internet Protocol (IP).

The new networks will provide higher call quality, faster speeds, greater resilience, and more advanced features. They are also easier to service and scale up as demand grows.

The timeline for the PSTN/ISDN shutdown is:

  • September 2023 – Openreach will stop selling PSTN and ISDN services to new customers.
  • December 2025 – All PSTN and ISDN networks will be switched off. After this, any service still running on these older networks will stop working.
  • January 2026 – All voice and data services will need to be delivered over digital IP networks.

Businesses have a few years to prepare, but should start planning their transition well in advance to avoid any disruption when the switch off takes effect.

Impact of the ISDN PSTN Switch Off on Businesses

The PSTN/ISDN switch off will impact any business that relies on these legacy networks for voice services, data connectivity, and specialty systems.

Key systems that will be affected include:

  • Landline telephone services – Traditional analog and digital phone lines will no longer function.
  • Fax machines – Old fax systems that use PSTN lines will not work.
  • Alarm and security systems – Alarm panels and sensors that connect via PSTN phone lines need to be upgraded or replaced.
  • Payment terminals – Any credit card machine using a phone line connection will cease to operate.
  • Voicemail systems – Legacy voicemail boxes will not be accessible.
  • Modems and other hardware – Devices that depend on ISDN/PSTN will be incompatible.

Operationally, this could mean major disruptions to communications, sales, security and other critical business functions if the switch off happens before migration is complete.

Financially, businesses will incur costs related to:

  • New phone systems and hardware upgrades
  • Higher bandwidth requirements
  • Potential productivity losses during transition
  • Training employees on new systems

Careful planning is required to minimize expenses and business impact.

Transitioning to New Solutions

Businesses have several technology options to replace their legacy ISDN/PSTN systems:

  • Voice over IP (VoIP) – Phone service delivered over internet instead of traditional phone lines. Enables advanced calling features.
  • SIP Trunking – Uses VoIP and session initiation protocol for integrating with PBX systems. Provides scalability.
  • Cloud PBX/UCaaS – Hosted phone system solutions accessed over the internet. Cost-effective and flexible.

Key benefits businesses can realize:

  • Lower costs – No need to maintain expensive dedicated phone lines. Usage based pricing models.
  • Improved call quality – Leverages high-speed broadband for HD voice and video calls.
  • Unified communications – Combining voice, video, messaging, conferencing and more.
  • Scalability – Easy to add extensions or features to meet changing needs.
  • Reliability – Cloud platforms offer built-in redundancy and disaster recovery.
  • Mobility – Software apps allow calling and messaging from any device.

To transition fully, businesses will likely need to invest in new IP phones, routers, switches and other gear to replace legacy hardware. Network upgrades may also be required. IT consultants can assist with requirements.

Migration Best Practices

To ensure a smooth transition, businesses should follow these steps:

  • Audit all existing systems dependent on PSTN/ISDN networks – phones, fax, alarms etc. Document how they are configured and used.
  • Research replacement solutions like VoIP providers, cloud business phone systems, network upgrades. Compare options to fit needs and budget.
  • Create a transition plan and timeline for deploying new solutions before the switch off date. Factor in equipment shipment times.
  • Train staff on using new phone systems, devices and network infrastructure. Appoint internal experts to support transition.
  • Set budget for new hardware, software, bandwidth, deployment resources and training. Factor in subscription fees for cloud solutions.
  • Work closely with telecom partners and vendors for technical guidance, project management and equipment rollouts. Leverage their expertise.

Starting the migration process well in advance is key. Test solutions thoroughly and optimize through pilot deployments before full rollout.

The ISDN and PSTN switch off will significantly impact business communications if companies are not prepared. It is critical to start the migration process as early as possible to avoid disruptions when the networks are discontinued.

While the switch off requires effort and expense in the near term, it also provides a valuable opportunity to modernize your company’s communications technology. Upgrading to VoIP, SIP trunking and cloud-based phone solutions will enable advanced features, mobility, reliability and lower costs.

Use this transition as a chance to enhance productivity and customer service with unified communications capabilities not possible on aging PSTN hardware. With careful planning and expert help, you can ensure your business is running better than ever on next-generation phone systems when the switch off takes effect. Contact your telecom solution provider to start preparing now.

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