BT’s Openreach is currently overhauling its analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to a full-fibre, fast digital network. The aim of the Big Switch Off is to have all UK businesses and home phone calls be hosted over Internet Protocol (IP) rather than PSTN. 

The “Big Switch Off” as it’s now termed, has implications for all businesses. But with 74% of businesses being unaware of the Big Switch Off, it’s likely that many will be forced to play catch up when they discover the migration is occurring (or has already occurred) before they were ready. 

So to avoid any disruptions to your business operations, here’s everything you need to know about the Big Switch Off, and what you can do today to start preparing. 

The Big Switch Off: What to expect and when?

For the last 150 years, the UK telephony system has been the traditional copper-wire PSTN, which was first implemented in 1875. However, given how old and outdated this system is, BT Openreach has begun upgrading the network, to a digital fibre network. 

And what about the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)? The ISDN was introduced by BT in 1986 to transmit data such as video calls that the PSTN couldn’t facilitate. ISDN is now outdated, and will only be available in old legacy teleconferencing systems. 

From now until 2025, Openreach will be replacing the old copper wires with fibre-optic cables, heralding the end of landlines and the beginning of a fully-digital network. 

With over 25 million connections to switch over by 2025, BT Openreach is already starting to install the fibre-optic cables in some areas.

The impact of the Big Switch Off on your business 

Businesses that currently use PSTN and ISDN will be affected by the Big Switch Off because, from 2025 (and in some cases, sooner), these systems will simply be shut down altogether. Systems that run through the ISDN might be your: 

  • Franking machine
  • Printer
  • Fax machine
  • Video conferencing 
  • File downloading
  • Live streaming

From the point at which the Big Switch Off has occurred, services running through the ISDN will be lost. That’s why it’s crucial that businesses that rely on these services should prepare in advance. 

How to prepare for the Big Switch Off? 

As a starting point, businesses should either purchase or upgrade their existing broadband to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) subscription. Businesses that have ISDN telephone lines, should also look for a business VoIP telephony system. 

There are a number of ways to go about upgrading to VoIP. Firstly, you can talk to your current provider and discuss the options they have available. You may need new equipment to enable your VoIP system, and they should be able to help you. 

Alternatively, you can compare different deals either by shopping around online or by talking to a trusted IT support company. 

What are the benefits of adopting VoIP?

If you haven’t already switched over to VoIP, making the leap might bring some opportunities you weren’t aware of. Not only is the service quicker than ISDN and PSTN lines, but it also allows you to make calls through smartphones, laptops and tablets even when you’re on the move:

  • Better connectivity will mean more productivity
  • Faster and more stable connectivity will improve your communications
  • Flexible price plans will mean you can adjust your package to suit your budget and needs
  • Flexible/remote working will be optimised

How to avoid problems with VoIP? 

Overall, the benefits of adopting VoIP far outweigh traditional telephony systems. However, there are some things to look out for before you make the switch: 

Find the right supplier

Take time to research the best business telephone providers in your area. By selecting the wrong supplier you may find you pay too much over the long run. 

Find the best deal

As the 2025 deadline draws closer, suppliers may well push up prices. By getting in early, you can begin comparing costs and finding the best deal to suit your budget. 

Don’t miss out on fast broadband

Some areas of the country are already offering fibre-optic internet, so make sure you know what’s available in your area so that you can make the most of its benefits. 

Find out more about VoIP

If you’d like to know more about how Equity can help support you with the Big Switch Off, please get in touch and we can discuss your needs.