The UK’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will switch off in 2025 and it will affect everyone within the UK.
This means that all landlines and other analogue services will no longer be available following the digital switch over by the main telephone line operators.
With the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), the need for PSTN networks diminishes.
These new technologies have opened the door to new possibilities, allowing people to connect devices together and communicate in ways not possible with traditional PSTN technology. IoT’s ubiquity and low cost make it a viable option for replacing PSTN as the primary communication platform.
But what is PSTN, what does its switch off mean for you, and what are the benefits? Keep reading to find out.
What is the PSTN switch off?
In a nutshell, the PSTN will be completely closed down by 2025 and be replaced with a fully digital service.
The PSTN uses copper wires to allow voice communication and has been used since it was first established in the late 1800s.
In order to keep up with the ever-evolving world of digital communication technology, Virgin Media and BT announced the 2025 PSTN switch-off in 2015.
By December 2025, every UK phone line will be operating on a fully digital network, routing calls over IP (Internet Protocol) as the PSTN network is completely switched off across the nation.
From this point, any legacy broadband connection or phone line will be replaced with a fully digital service that uses IP within a fibre-based network.
This will mean that all calls and data are sent over the internet, rather than through traditional copper lines.
Why is PSTN being switched off?
It’s no secret that technology is evolving at a very rapid rate.
With technologies like VoIP, IoT and 5G cellular networks being introduced globally, it is clear that the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network has run its course and no longer meets the demands of the modern communication world.
Today’s level of communication has a distinct need for speed, reliability, and a level of versatility that the PSTN cannot provide.
This switch will ultimately create a more efficient and cost-effective service for customers that creates opportunities for companies and customers alike to take advantage of the latest technologies available.
How will the 2025 PSTN switch off affect me?
The PSTN switch off will truly affect everyone, from business and home.
While some businesses may have already migrated to digital networks, nearly 70% of UK businesses still operate on legacy telephone lines and ISDN networks. This is predominately due to telecare equipment relying on analogue tones beings ent across telephone lines to send a signal in any emergency event.
This figure is even higher for UK homes, with 73% of British homes still using landlines to make and receive calls.
Additionally, any PSTN-based alarm will fail from 2025 and need upgrading.
While there may be an option to rewire any existing signalling system to a new Smart Router, but this will be a disruptive process and a solution with an unreliable power source.
Without preparing for this change, your home or business could be left without a phone line or broadband connection.
Planning ahead and upgrading your system means that you can avoid any potential disruption resulting from the switch off all while benefiting from a modern VoIP system.
Fortunately, there is a set timeline of events involving the PSTN switch off. By September 2023, Openreach will have stopped selling products reliant on the PSTN network, encouraging customers to migrate to the Full Fibre network.
Some Irish exchanges have already begun migrating over to MSAN (Multi-Service Access Nodes), meaning that a complete end-to-end PSTN service is not available and that some signalling systems may fail to communicate.
One 75% of Irish end-users have switched to an IP line, remaining copper line customers will be incentivised to do the same and be given a 12 months notice of a full withdrawal of service.
Benefits of the PSTN switch off
The 2025 switch off of PSTN offers a number of benefits for businesses, customers and the wider telecommunications industry.
The six key advantages of upgrading to VoIP services include:
Resilient and reliable connectivity
Upgrading to a VoIP system means that your communications are no longer reliant on physical lines, instead relying on an internet connection to make and receive calls. This offers a more reliable connection as there is less risk of service disruption due to damaged or broken wires.
Improved call quality
Following on from the last point, having a more reliable connection means better call quality. VoIP systems can provide clear, crisp audio, with a low latency and no background noise or distortion.
Phones are no longer fixed to one set location, with SIP (Standard Initiation Protocol) meaning that users can make and receive calls from any location with an internet connection. This also allows businesses to change their office layout without having to reconfigure their telephone system, as the phones are no longer tethered to physical lines.
Another major benefit of the PSTN switch off is that VoIP systems are more cost effective than traditional landlines. There are no set-up costs and the monthly prices for VoIP calls tend to be lower than their PSTN counterparts, saving businesses up to 50% on line rental.
Installing full-fibre broadband will significantly upgrade your connection speeds, making for an even faster and more reliable connection. It is estimated that full-fibre broadband can provide download speeds up to ten times faster than traditional copper lines.
Additional, modern features
Most modern business phone systems offer a range of communication and call management tools, such as voicemail-to-email, call handling, call recording and collaborative call distribution.
Platforms, like Microsoft Teams, allow you to integrate your VoIP system with your company’s existing technology stack, creating a unified user experience.
Disadvantages of the PSTN switch off
While there are a lot of advantages that come with PSTN switch off, it’s hard to overlook some issues homes and businesses across the UK will be faced with.
The initial upgrade from PSTN to VoIP will cost individuals money. While the price may vary depending on the system each household or business upgrades to, it is a cost that they will have to consider before the end of 2025.
Most VoIP phones are powered by a mains supply, unlike most home PSTN devices that are telephone line powered. This can become an issue during periods where power is lost, such as during outage or damage to the grid.
This potential lack of connection could become an issue in some emergencies, as no emergency calls could be made on the VoIP line.
How can IoT help you prepare?
You may not realise it but IoT already plays a major part in most of our homes and could be the answer for businesses looking to improve their operation following the 2025 PSTN switch off.
IoT solutions can automate processes and keep systems up-to-date, allowing you to take advantage of the latest technologies available.
Businesses can utilise IoT technology through EPOS card machines or Wi-Fi-enabled cameras and sensors, helping them to track customer behaviour or monitor stock levels.
IoT-ready devices can use IoT SIM cards to easily connect to 4G and 5G networks, utilising future-proof technology to provide fast, reliable connectivity.
However, one of the key IoT challenges is that it may not be suitable for every business application.
Caburn Telecom is an industry leader in IoT solutions, providing businesses with the technology and advice needed to upgrade their connectivity operations.
With our expertise in telecommunications, we are well placed to ensure that your business is ready for the switch off and can take advantage of the many opportunities that new communication technology brings.