The UK PSTN Switch Off - Your Questions Answered

What You Need to Know About the Upcoming PSTN Switch Off

The PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) switch-off is set to be one of the biggest moves in the UK phone network in decades, with people and businesses everywhere needing to switch to alternate methods of communication – like mobile and internet communications – if they’re still reliant on old technology. But what exactly is the PSTN switch off, what does it involve, should you be concerned and what steps should they take to avoid any pitfalls?

Let’s explore some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the PSTN switch-off, so you can prepare your business for the future. 

What is the PSTN Switch-Off?

Since their inception, telephone lines in the UK have been powered by the network of  copper wiring known as the PSTN. However, given the data-intensive nature of the world today, these existing services are no longer suitable to carry the heavy data load imposed by people and businesses every day. Therefore, BT has made the decision to permanently switch off these lines in 2025, with businesses needing to switch to a fully digital phone system to remain connected.

PSTN Questions & Answers

When will landlines be turned off?

The PSTN network is set to be switched off by December 2025.. If a business has not switched to a digital phone line by the time the switch-off occurs, it will lose not only its ability to make and receive calls but also to make wider communications if its business communication systems still rely on outdated lines. Furthermore, if a business relies on the PSTN for their connectivity through utilising solutions such as ADSL, they will also need to move to a fully digital solution, such as fibre to the premises. 

Why is British Telecom getting rid of the PSTN lines?

When the original phone lines were created and put in place many years ago, their only role was to carry voice call data down a simplistic route between what we would now recognise as primitive phone devices. However, as time moved forward and the demands on these lines increased due to the number of phone devices and the evolution of the internet (including the introduction of the Integrated Services Digital Network – or ‘ISDN’), it became clear these lines were no longer the most efficient method of transferring large quantities of data consistently. This is why BT has gradually been moving individuals and businesses over to more effective broadband connections (including full fibre) and digitised methods of communication, in the lead-up to these lines ultimately being deactivated in 2025.

What will be used instead of traditional phone services to make calls?

By the time the switch-off happens in 2025, individuals and businesses will need to be using a digital voice service powered through the internet if they hope to make and receive phone calls, as well as operate their larger communication systems. While mobile phone communications won’t be affected, the majority of both consumer and business communications will be powered through a fully digital network and technology known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), rather than utilising analogue lines.

How does VOIP work?

VOIP works by connecting a phone call over an internet connection, receiving the voice signals from the opposing phone and converting them from analogue signals into digital signals, before projecting them to the receiving device. As these calls are transformed into digital signals, they are far easier to manage, transfer, save and otherwise manipulate than traditional calls, which can be useful in a large, fast-paced business environment where calls need to be moved or saved consistently without loss.

Is VOIP better than calls on traditional lines?

Yes – phone calls powered through VOIP generally sound much better than calls made using analogue lines. This is because the signals sent over analogue lines are far less complex and don’t transfer as much voice data as is possible through an internet connection, leading to the slightly muffled voice call we’re all familiar with. Digital voice services are far more reliable as they are less susceptible to disruption caused by factors such as construction work and stormy weather. 

As digital voice services work using impressive transfer speeds, moving voice data from one device to the other seamlessly, users can fully utilise the impressive microphone technology now featured by many modern landline phones and smartphones for crystal-clear voice calls. This is also known as HD Calling.

Will I need new phones when the PSTN switch-off happens?

Not necessarily. Many modern home and office phones can connect to the internet in some form – it may simply be a case of making this connection (wired or wirelessly) to allow your phone to make VOIP calls. However, if your current phones have no internet capability whatsoever, you will need to switch to devices that can be connected to the internet via an ethernet cable or a Wi-Fi connection.

What is the ‘stop-sell’?

The ‘stop-sell’ is the initiative put in place by BT to prepare for the PSTN switch-off. It means that, as of the 5th of September 2023, BT has permanently halted the sale of PSTN-based services, to focus on purely digital alternatives that will still be usable post-switch-off.

Will the PSTN switch-off affect both individuals and businesses?

Yes, it will. The phones in both people’s homes and their places of work will no longer be able to make or receive calls if they have not moved to a digital alternative by 2025. Many homeowners have already successfully hooked their existing landline phones up to their consumer broadband connections. However, many businesses whose entire communications systems rely on their landline connections may need to also switch to more suitable business broadband choices to maintain connection with customers and each other (more on this in a moment).

Modern communications system solutions, such as Unified Communications (UC) or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) are powered by cloud technology through the internet and make impressive upgrades to outdated, less efficient communications systems. Get in touch with Elite Group if you would like to know more about how this technology could help your business moving forward.

What other technologies will be impacted by the PSTN switch-off?

Essentially, any technology that is powered by a traditional phone line will be affected or rendered useless once the PSTN switch-off comes into place. Beyond just phones and communication systems, these can include such devices as fax machines, CCTV cameras, security systems, door entry systems and even escalators, among others. The owners and operators of such devices need to either remove their reliance on traditional phone lines or replace them with internet-powered alternatives by 2025.

What legacy technology will be useless when the PSTN switch-off happens?

Any products that are supported by the Public Switch Telephone Network (including WLR, IDSN 2 and IDSN 30) will no longer be useable after the switch-off. Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) broadband and Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband will also be compromised as these products are reliant on traditional lines to operate.

What broadband services will be available aside from PSTN-based connections?

Given that many consumer and business internet connections are still reliant on a broadband connection that runs using traditional lines, it is understandable that other connection options have been developed to not only avoid the pitfalls of the PSTN switch-off, but also improve connections, bandwidth and internet speeds as a whole.

Leased lines are an excellent example. As leased lines offer businesses a dedicated full-fibre broadband line that is not reliant on traditional lines, businesses will be able to enjoy unrivalled connection speeds – both uploads and downloads. Better still, because leased lines are dedicated to a specific location, businesses don’t need to compete with other users in the nearby area for bandwidth, meaning they will always have a fast and reliable connection.

How Elite Group can help you navigate the PSTN switch-off

If your business is yet to make the move to an internet-based communications system and VOIP technology, the clock is ticking. Elite Group is here to help you navigate the PSTN switch-off and offer solutions that will not only keep your communications running, but make them more efficient than ever..

We’re a communications and technology provider with over 20 years of industry experience. Our experts are ready to offer you the advice, the knowledge, the tools and the support you need to traverse the PSTN switch-off and walk away with a communications system that works for you, your customers and your colleagues.

Get in touch with Elite Group to find a solution catered to you today.