With less than three years to go before the PSTN switch off, all businesses must prepare now to ensure minimal disruption. But with one in four businesses unaware of the PSTN switch-off, how can they get ready for the change?  

The Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN, has been providing landline connectivity for decades. But the lines are expensive to maintain, and their age is making it harder and harder for service providers to find replacement parts. Simply put, these landlines just aren’t suitable for the modern world.

As a result, the entire network will be switched off by 2025. Phasing out of the PSTN begins this year, with no new lines available for purchase come September 2023. But what does this mean for businesses?

Understanding the switch off

All premises that currently rely on a landline connection will need to switch to a digital replacement before the final deadline. That includes properties that use the PSTN and the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN).

If you’re unsure whether your phone line relies on a PSTN connection, you can check by identifying the cord your phone is connected to. Traditional phone cords indicate a PSTN connection, whereas an ethernet cord suggests your phone is already operating through a digital line.

Check your connection

If you do still need to switch to a digital line, the next step is to ensure your internet connection is sufficient to support it. Evaluating your business’ current usage will help to identify the benchmark service required, but it’s important to think about the future too.

A connection with low latency and high bandwidth is ideal. This can be achieved by opting for a fibre connection, either entirely to your doorstep with Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) or to a street nearby with Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC).

Review your hardware

You might think that all of your hardware needs to change when you move over to a digital solution, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Some digital solutions can be integrated with existing hardware, reducing the cost of a switchover.

But switching can provide the ideal opportunity to review how well your existing hardware is working for your employees. Since hybrid working has become the norm, it might be that hardware purchased pre-pandemic isn’t really fit for the current working culture.

Remember it isn’t just phones

Is anything else using your PSTN line that you weren’t aware of? Common culprits include alarms, door entry systems and payment terminals. These are vital to a business’s daily running, so taking the time to identify and list them all is key in ensuring a smooth switchover.

Involve the team

Finding out that setups are changing can be daunting for employees. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it’s key to ensure that your staff are involved with the process at every step.

Giving them the opportunity to ask questions and understand the new solution means that when it lands on their desks, they’ll be able to pick it up easily, minimising frustration and preventing an impact on productivity.

Reviewing your options

The digital replacement of the landline is Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. VoIP can perform all the same tasks as a traditional landline, but comes with extra benefits.

For one, VoIP is fully scalable. Connections can be added and removed in just a few minutes, making it easy for businesses to adapt during quieter and busier seasons. It’s also often more cost-effective, as there’s no need for expensive and cumbersome hardware.

VoIP systems can be accessed through the internet via multiple devices. This means employees aren’t tethered to their desks or a single machine, and offers them the opportunity to work far more flexibly.

And you don’t need to lose your existing phone numbers if you’re switching from a landline. All your numbers can be ported onto a VoIP system, so you and your customers don’t need to memorise any new numbers.

The PSTN switch-off is inevitable, but it doesn’t need to be complicated or confusing. Taking the time now to prepare helps to ensure that the transition can be as smooth as possible, future proofing your business for years to come.