How switching off the PSTN impacts your Small/Medium Business?

If you access your telephone and data services through a fixed-line into your building, you might have heard about the upcoming ‘PSTN switch off’ amidst all the other changes in communication technology recently.

Throughout the past 18 months, for most companies of all sizes, this change has been firmly pushed to the back burner. Nonetheless, how to develop a sustainable strategy to communicate and collaborate instead of just reacting to emergency situations is what we need to be aware of now.

How does the PSTN network work?

In its traditional circuit-switched form, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) dates from the late 19th century. A range of newer technologies, such as fiber optics and satellite links, are supplementing the copper wires of the late 1800s today, but parts of it are hopelessly out of date.

The PSTN and the way it is managed have both changed over the years as many digital communications have been routed over it, like your land phone. British Telecom (BT) and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) teamed up in 2006 to create Open reach as a more egalitarian way to access the UK’s telephone network. The market opened with denationalization, which allowed new Communications Providers (CPs) to resell phone services, and this led to a host of new revenue opportunities.

In the case of the switch-off of PSTN

As of 2021, most communications are conducted online, using voice over IP (VoIP), not over traditional phone lines. The global internet backbone’s scalability and redundancy have far greater elasticity than any buried copper wire, and most users lack a landline of any description.

It’s for this reason the PSTN will be consigned to history, andAccording to BT, the switchover will take place in December 2025.

The IP protocol will be used for all services – voice, data, video, and broadcasting. A dial tone will no longer be heard on your old landline.

A ten-year notice is reasonable. Everyone must be prepared, right? There have been many distractions lately, and we’ve already reached the halfway point of the conversion period. There was a previous UK major technical earthquake like this in 2007, when the analogue TV network was disconnected due to similar reasons – which, despite huge government-funded advertising, still shocked some people. It would not be good to have your business caught out in four years like that.

How the switch-off affects you

Your actual user experience will not be significantly affected by the switch-off, day to day. It is possible that you already use VoIP, such as Skype for Business or WhatsApp, and even your landlines may be connected to the internet rather than through traditional phone lines – how does data travel from one place to another?

BT is already restricting product lines for traditional PSTN and ISDN phone systems – helping businesses make the right long-term communications investments in advance of the transition. If, however, you try to buy or install new lines, you’re likely to notice changes.

There’s a good chance you will not be able to add new lines to your existing setup even if you are not adding whole new systems. They have introduced some products to help businesses phase in the change-over, but if you will still need to migrate to VoIP fully within four years, you should consider whether the cost-savings are worth the transition.

Choosing the right transition time

We recommend talking to Ringover about the switch-off if your business currently uses the PSTN – if there’s anything we learned from last year’s remote revolution; it’s that major changes in how we communicate are better carried out in a planned, systematic manner. While you can live through an emergency when you have no other option, why wait until then? 

As such, you should start by auditing your current system and determining its dependence on fixed lines, and be sure to consider other things such as payment terminals, alarms, CCTV, etc.

It will also depend to a certain degree on whether or not high-speed broadband is available near your location – although as 5G is rolled out in the UK and throughout the world, this is becoming less of a concern. The plan is all connected (and not in a 5G conspiracy theory way, I hasten to add).

The voice aspect of VoIP does require some bandwidth, but using videoconferencing is probably no more a struggle than using VoIP.

There is something amazing about the way VoIP uses bandwidth – think of the silence between words and the longer pauses between sentences in any conversation. These beats are used by VoIP phone systems to transfer data from other users sharing the connection, such as files being shared. By compressing and eliminating speech redundancies, like inaudible frequencies, VoIP can further boost data efficiencies without sacrificing the quality of voice transmission.

Your provider should guarantee you Quality-of-Service before you begin your VoIP transition, so you need not worry about your bandwidth.

You’ll enjoy many benefits if you transition to VoIP well ahead of the switch off – and you’ll stand out from the competition if you leave it to the last minute when many providers and deals will be overstocked, and outages/downtime are a genuine concern.

Your roadmap will be created by Ringover specifically for your business and its priorities — Consider your current and projected future needs and ensure compatibility and security by considering number porting, extension lines, and compatibility checks. There is no need to change your phone number or go offline to make the changes.

In addition to this, switching to VoIP before the PSTN shuts down will also provide you with many benefits.

SMBs will benefit from VoIP

There are many immediate benefits you’ll notice when you make your own switch-over:

Installing hardware is no longer necessary

Ringover’s business phone system doesn’t require new lines or physical equipment to be purchased. The software is delivered as pure software, which includes apps specifically designed for desktop computers or mobile devices.

The result is that multiple lines (like geographic outbound numbers, or virtual extensions) can be added to your account, new accounts configured, and even new banks of lines added, all without installing a single physical server. You can allow your team to use their mobile phones if they prefer, via the Ringover app, without impacting their mobile tariff (and without the business being subject to expense claims).

Money-saving tips!

In this environment, you’re already paying for internet and data, so when you add your phone system, you’ll notice instant savings, overpaying for traditional phone lines and equipment.

Generally, calling rates are better too, especially if you are making a lot of outgoing calls to mobile numbers. Compared to traditional phone services, VoIP can cost as much as 68% less, and with toll-free numbers, you’ll likely save even more, as VoIP phones have lower per-minute prices than traditional carriers.

In today’s collaborative world of work, your phone company may charge you additional service fees when you hand off calls, configure IVR phone trees, or call in with multiple users. The subscription services and bundles will reduce your outgoings and increase your business’s competitiveness, freeing up cash for investment and profit, and allowing you to expand faster, regardless of the economy’s state.

With features like recording calls or preloading telephone numbers in your sales team’s speed dialer, a business VoIP phone system can save you money, as well as time. It is possible to add as many features as you want to your VoIP contract and have them tailored exactly to the needs of your business.

Whenever you want, wherever you are

For many companies, voice application is the last link in the chain of cloud-based services, and they have already enjoyed the benefits of shared documents, data and text communication. In the case of the Coronavirus pandemic, all of this proved crucial, as often the smaller and nimbler SME sector was able to adapt more quickly and efficiently too.

With VoIP we’ll see location-independent working become a reality. Your team will be able to remain connected no matter if they’re in the office, working remotely, in a co-working space, or even on the move. They will also be able to make and receive calls without being restricted by their physical locations – a facility that allows growing companies to appear more substantial and present until reality catches up.

Ringover’s landline and mobile phones offer numbers in more than 65 destinations worldwide, and can be configured online with just a few clicks, to allow even a business of one to operate different extensions and voicemail for different departments, or to create presences in different locations.

Businesses in 2021 are global, and having a landline no longer makes sense. Instead, VoIP business phone systems let your team access their number anywhere, on any device, so they can make calls, send texts, or even send faxes.

It goes beyond voice

As you move voice calling into the cloud, you are able to enrich your communications and move towards an Omni channel approach – which is essential both internally and externally for collaboration on any project.

Have a question? Need to share your screen or a photo? You can switch modes with ease within the same system, even within the same call, by utilizing native features and customized integrations, transforming your phone number into a comprehensive multimedia communication center.

Flow of security upgrades and improvements

The subscription nature of VoIP is another advantage most small businesses appreciate, as everything is provided as a service.

Additionally, you will also not have to depreciate your physical endpoints and your software* will be continuously updated. Upgrades and patches are pushed out to the whole network so you don’t need to search for them. The cloud phone software will always be running the newest version of the software for every line and account, no matter when they were configured.

In addition to reducing the workload for your in-house IT staff, this outsourcing of security and threat response enables the VoIP service to relieve stress and workload. Ringover’s team of experienced, compliant, and effective security professionals will ensure that your business-critical communications are safe from cyber threats.

As a matter of fact, VoIP is more resilient and fault-tolerant than the PSTN network by nature – which is why those old rusty wires will be eliminated.

Don’t hesitate to act!

Why not get started now?

Start saving money, increasing choice, and improving resilience as you prepare for the big switch-off.

We invite you to download our free eBook, and take your business communications into the future with Ringover.