Many businesses are facing the financial burden of upgrading to digital when PSTN services are switched off in 2025.

BT Wholesale stopped supplying ISDN and PSTN circuits to new customers in 2020, and it marked a seismic shift in how businesses communicate. By 2025 these traditional services will be switched off completely with customers migrating over to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone systems. During COVID-19 pandemic many businesses may have made the switch to VoIP to enable and maintain communication with employees while working from home. However, businesses may still be unaware that the PSTN switch-off is happening or the added costs involved.

In this short blog post, we’ll look at what the PSTN and ISDN circuits are, what they’ll be replaced with and how businesses can prepare for the big switch off.

What are PSTN and ISDN?

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) are the circuits that most of us used to use to communicate over landline telephones. PSTN is an older technology (operating using the same principles as the first ever public phone network) which sees analogue voice data flowing through circuit-switched copper phone lines. ISDN however is more recent, using technology from the late 1980s and delivering both voice and data services over digital lines at the same time. Whereas once ISDN was the ‘go-to’ choice for video-conferencing and fast data connections, it has now been overtaken by more recent innovations like fibre broadband.

What will replace PSTN/ISDN?

PSTN and ISDN circuits will be replaced by VoIP systems. To make the switch, you can either opt for a hosted system (i.e., in the “cloud”) or upgrade your existing phone system so that you can connect it to your broadband connection.

With a hosted system, calls are delivered via the internet and there is no need for telephone system hardware (other than handsets) or dedicated telephone lines. With a hosted voice system, you can enjoy cheaper call rates, free site-to-site calls, the ability to pick up calls across multiple devices and the facility to add users quickly and easily while benefiting from HD call quality and recording. Business phone systems become more scalable and flexible to your company’s needs.

If you choose to keep an on-premises business phone system, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of VoIP, such as scalability, HD quality calls and cost savings. Instead of PSTN or ISDN circuits, your business will need SIP Trunks – virtual telephone lines that create a phone line over your internet connection. SIP trunks are great for flexible working, have built-in disaster recovery and can be scaled up or down without the need for additional physical line installation.

With both hosted and on-premises solutions, you’re able to use your laptop/PC/Tablet to act as a VoIP handset.

How can my business prepare and check which circuit is being used?

You can prepare for the switch off by upgrading your telephone system to VoIP. This will require an investment in new hardware and software, as well as a reliable internet connection. You should also ensure that your internet connection has the capacity to handle the increased bandwidth requirements of VoIP.

To check what circuit you currently have, you can contact your service provider and ask if you’re using PSTN or ISDN. You may also want to consider seeking advice from a telecommunications expert to ensure that you make the right decision for your specific business needs.

Here to help

This is a significant change in the telecommunications industry. While it may seem daunting, there is still time to upgrade before the big switch off in 2025, as it will ensure you can continue to communicate effectively and efficiently in the digital age.

If you are still connected to PSTN or ISDN and would benefit from funding to help with the cost of migrating over to VoIP, then perhaps we can help.

At Digital Enterprise our purpose is to support businesses across West Yorkshire on their digital transformation journey. Enabling your business to improve performance, productivity and competitiveness, reduce environmental impact, and ultimately achieve sustainable growth by investing in digital.

Find out more about our Digital Accelerator GrantHigh Impact Grant and the digital projects we can fund.