Have you heard the term ‘Big Switch Off’ used in the media and around the office? Wondered what it was and whether it would impact your organisation? If so, this is the post for you.
We’re going to discuss what the Big Switch Off is and how it will impact British businesses and non-profits.
What is the Big Switch Off?
The Big Switch Off is the term given to the turning off of BT’s PSTN (Public Switch Telephone Network).
The PSTN is what powered most phone lines from the 1930s onwards. It’s what is known as legacy technology, old technology that has been updated as much as possible to keep up with the times.
That time is now over.
The PSTN used technology from when the telephone was first invented in Victorian times.
It worked great at the time and was able to be updated to mostly keep up with digital technology.
It has now reached the point where the PSTN simply cannot keep up and is becoming very expensive to maintain.
BT will be switching off the PSTN altogether in 2025.
What does the Big Switch Off mean for businesses and non-profits?
Switching off the PSTN won’t mean much for many businesses unless you’re still using dedicated phone lines.
If you still use a physical switchboard and dedicated phone lines, you’ll need to switch to digital before the switch off date in 2025.
If you use IP phones, digital switchboards and a pure fibre or digital connection, you’ll be fine and no action is necessary.
Digital Voice is what BT are replacing landlines with. It will be a similar service that will use a phone, but will be over the internet instead of landline.
Other companies offer VoIP services, which also work over the internet.
VoIP, Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) has been around for 10-15 years and is now a solid, reliable technology.
Choice is everywhere and there are many providers that offer physical VoIP systems and cloud systems, either separately or alongside, your standard internet connection.
What do businesses and non-profits need to do to prepare?
While 2025 seems like a long way away, the past 2 years have shown us all that time moves fast!
If you’re still using a switchboard and dedicated phone lines, now is the time to begin planning for an upgrade.
If you use special services like alarm systems or telecare services, those will need to be changed too.
We would recommend:
- Finding out whether you currently use PSTN landlines or not
- Begin specifying their replacement if required
- Raise money or allocate a budget for the switchover
- Start getting quotes
While you have 3 years until the switch off, VoIP providers are going to get a lot busier as the time draws near.
Thousands of businesses and nonprofits are going to be switching over, which means prices and scheduling will become more challenging.
That’s why we recommend moving early.
What are the benefits of moving to digital?
While businesses don’t have much choice but to move to digital, there are benefits as well.
Lower call costs – Most VoIP systems don’t charge for calls. As calls use data instead of voice, they will all be combined within your internet connection.
More calls at once – If you have a busy office, you can make many more calls at once over VoIP than landline. There is no requirement for a dedicated line for each call as they can all be carried at once using the internet.
Access better technology – Switching to digital means you can also access unified communications, where calls follow you wherever you are, video conferencing, data and voice and many call centre features.
What will it cost us to move from PSTN?
The switch to digital doesn’t have to cost that much. If you already have a decent internet connection to your business or nonprofit, it might not cost much at all.
Many VoIP providers like us use a per seat licencing model. Take a look at our solutions here.
That means rather than paying a large fee up front for hardware and installation, you pay per user, per month instead.
On average, digital systems are much, much cheaper than a switchboard and the hardware required to run physical phone lines!
The Big Switch Off is coming and it’s coming soon. But it isn’t all bad news and doesn’t have to be expensive bad news either.
Plan ahead, work with a reliable communications partner like us and you’ll be fine!