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You’re probably thinking, the last thing I need right now is having to worry about replacing legacy technology and outdated systems – I mean, have you seen the inflation rate recently?

Well, I’m afraid it’s bad news for some businesses as the ISDN and PSTN Switch Off is already underway. Whilst 2025 has been outlined as the final cut-off date, that doesn’t mean your service won’t be retired sooner. Now is the time to act to ensure your business stays connected.

First – what is ISDN and PSTN?

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network. PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network. Both really trip off the tongue I know. BT introduced them in the United Kingdom in 1986.

It’s complicated stuff but put simply ISDN is a telephone network that allows for the simultaneous delivery of voice and data services over digital lines, whereas PSTN is the older analogue telephone network. PSTN is super antiquated, although some are still using it, whilst ISDN was introduced later and was seen as an upgrade to PSTN at the time.

If they were so revolutionary, why are they switching them off?

At the time, ISDN was revolutionary, adding features not available with the traditional telephone systems people were used to before. However, these ageing infrastructures now rely on degrading copper telephone lines and outdated signalling methods, all of it costing your business additional money.

Although ISDN and PSTN technology has come a long way since 1986, the network has remained relatively unchanged and is now severely outdated. These networks, in short, can no longer compete with more advanced telephony systems such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – more on this later.

As businesses move towards the cloud, more and more will begin to rely on the internet to make their phone calls and run their organisations. This offers businesses more capacity and flexibility, as they are not so tied to a physical place, and ISDN and PSTN lines just can’t offer the same level of adaptability.

This flexibility is especially important now, as more and more people work from home. IP technology provides much greater capacity for organisations who need the flexibility to support those working from multiple locations at home, as well as on the road or in the office.

Overall, it doesn’t make financial sense for Openreach to continue to invest in ISDN and PSTN technology, when they can be using that money to invest in more advanced, digital solutions.

What is actually happening as part of the Switch Off?

Whilst 2025 has been marked as the end of the analogue switch off, that doesn’t mean your service won’t be retired sooner. Since their 2017 announcement in which they outlined their intention to switch off the ISDN and PSTN networks, Openreach are actively working through retiring the analogue exchanges, of which there are approximately 5,600 in the UK.

These exchanges are gradually being put into a phase known as ‘Stop Sell’, where you can no longer order the analogue service, including any bandwidth upgrades, change of termination address or variation on this existing service you have. Essentially, once your service is put into this ‘Stop Sell’ phase, it becomes static. Openreach will move all analogue exchanges into this phase by 2023.

The next phase is to then move the exchange to ‘End of Life’, at which point your service, will cease to work. By 2025, all exchanges will be moved into their ‘End of Life’.

Whilst 2025 still feels like a long way off, it’s important you start to take action to make sure your business has upgraded to a suitable solution. As with any large migration project, planning and preparation is key and Babble can support your upgrade to your system and make sure your business is ready for the change.

What’s the advantage of acting now?

A recent survey revealed that as much as 77% of organisations surveyed said they have not prepared for any disruption the switch off of these services may cause. This is a problem for a number of reasons.

As already highlighted, your exchange could enter the ‘Stop Sell’ phase from now until 2025, meaning you won’t be able to make any changes to your current phone line or broadband service. This will most certainly affect your business as your systems will no longer be able to flex with your needs, having a knock-on effect to your bandwidth, customers’ experiences and service levels, employee experiences and remote working capabilities.

On the other side of the coin, it takes time for your business to make the switch and move to a newer system. If your current internet can cope with the switch, it can take as little as two-weeks, but if it isn’t, it can take a lot longer.

Making the move now means you won’t be caught out. Look out for our next blog highlighting your options, and why upgrading your outdated telephony systems to the cloud will futureproof your business.

And if you’d like to get started on upgrading your system in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Babble team.