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The most boring blog I’ve ever written. Please read and act so I don’t need to do it again.

Did you know that the UK’s analogue telecoms network is being switched off? I’m sure you do, but let’s address it once and for all. 

By the end of 2025, all phone lines will be switched off. As part of this change, what’s known as the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products (copper-based lines to you & me) will stop being sold completely in just a couple of years’ time in the run up to being switched off altogether. 

Your business needs to be ready in plenty of time to minimise the impact. The best way to get prepared is to understand the need for change and embrace the transformation.  

This isn’t an exciting topic, but much like how after watching paint dry you’re left with a freshly painted wall, after reading this blog you’ll gain an understanding on the importance of making sure you’ve got a plan to stop using analogue phone lines.

What is an analogue phone line and why are they so old school?

You might know them as legacy, copper, or traditional phone lines. They are what many tech experts refer to as POTS – plain old telephone systems, run over.

As well as bog standard voice, analogue phone lines deliver broadband over copper lines. Compared to fibre optic lines, copper is slow, ineffective and unreliable. Copper networks are being replaced with a much better technology in fibre optic, which transmit large amounts of data much more quickly, are more reliable and provide much greater flexibility. This paves the way for businesses to use exciting cloud computing solutions – which otherwise would be painful, or even impossible, to use effectively.  

Get ready for fibre

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) offers a quicker, more reliable broadband service compared with traditional broadband. Most telephone exchanges will be upgraded to FTTP, but where this isn’t available businesses will need to move  to a new type of line for broadband, called Single order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA).

You simply can’t have best-in-class technology when you’re running on analogue phone lines. FTTP provides much better bandwidth and connectivity which gives your business the opportunity to embrace new communication solutions.

How will the switch-off impact your business?

WLR products include voice and broadband products supported by copper-based networks. Your telephone lines, card payment machines and even security alarms could be impacted by the switch-off. You might think you have years to migrate, but you shouldn’t bury your head in the sand. The first phase of the UK’s upgrade process known as “Stop Sell” is happening right now. As you read, Openreach is prepping to Stop Sell in hundreds of locations imminently. 

Though nationwide Stop Sell isn’t happening until the end of 2023, this is a gradual process, and many exchanges will be impacted long before. As an example, 117 exchanges will no longer be able to purchase WLR products from 29 June 2021. If your business falls into this category, you must start thinking about your options now.

The world won’t end on the 1st January 2026 if you haven’t migrated but, truth be told, it won’t be great news and you should expect some serious downtime if you don’t get your business into gear.

What does stop sell actually mean for my business?

Put simply, you won’t be able to make any changes to your analogue phone and broadband lines following the stop sell at your exchange. This includes adding new lines even where you have existing services.

You’ll need to consider migrating and upgrading your technology and telephony equipment to ensure your business’ services survive the switch-off.

What should businesses do to prepare?

Step one: Call the experts

Step two: Do it now

Every organisation with copper telephone lines will need to migrate within the next few years. That’s a huge wave of upgrade works for communication organisations. Don’t leave it until the last minute to migrate, or you could risk being stuck at the back of the queue.

Now’s your chance to choose a best-in-class telephony solution

FTTP puts your business in the best possible position to consider integrating cloud-based communication services. Review your comms suite and look to implement faster, more efficient and more reliable tools that make modern working practices easy to implement.

We’ve already discussed the benefits of cloud technology vs traditional PBX systems. Cloud technology offers numerous advantages including boosting business resilience, enhancing employee wellbeing, bolstering your agile working offering, minimising capital expenditure, prioritising scalable solutions, increasing employee efficiency and ultimately improving profitability.

With copper networks soon to be a thing of the past, you’ll have no more excuses not to utilise cloud communications.

Escape the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ loop

You must audit your existing telephony system and review your analogue estate, so you properly understand the implications of the analogue phone line switch-off for your company. The goal should be to manage a seamless migration with minimal downtime ahead of time.

View the switch-off as a great opportunity to bring your communications suite up to date and revolutionise the way you do work. It might seem like a short-term inconvenience, but with it comes a world of opportunity.