For over 7 years, the PSTN and ISDN switch-off dates have been fast approaching for companies in the UK. Despite this, around 33% of SMEs still say they haven’t prepared for the change. While moving away from familiar communication and connectivity infrastructure can be a daunting prospect for many brands, it’s not something today’s organisations can afford to delay.
By 2023, the “Stop Sell” order for ISDN and PSTN solutions will be implemented, making it impossible to access new functionality connected with these technologies. By 2025, BT has announced the two technologies will be eliminated completely, forcing all organisations in the UK to shift towards a more agile, cloud-based environment.
The switch off of ISDN/PTSN technology represents the most significant change to take place in the telecoms industry for the last 30 years. For many companies, it will prompt a radical transformation in the way their teams access the internet, phone lines, and existing “connected” tools.
So how do you prepare for such a massive transition?
The team at Resonate joined forces to provide a step-by-step guide to everything business leaders need to consider when migrating away from ISDN and PSTN in the next few years.
Here are the key steps recommended by:
The first step in a successful migration strategy is understanding exactly what the ISDN/PTSN switch-off means to modern businesses. Although BT has been promoting this switch-off for several years, 83% of organisations in 2021 still said they didn’t know when their services would be disappearing, and 77% said they haven’t prepared for any disruption the switch-off may cause.
The ISDN/PTSN switch-off is the planned roadmap for removing ISDN and PSTN line technologies from circulation throughout the whole of the UK by the end of 2025. While the change is primarily facing UK companies today, ISDN and PSTN technologies are gradually phasing out throughout the world too. Once these technologies are removed, phone lines will need to be moved to a digital network, leveraging the “Internet Protocol” format.
While the official switch-off date is set for 2025, it’s worth noting Openreach has also implemented a “Stop Sell” data for September 2023. After this time, UK telecom companies will not be able to deliver new services on PSTN technologies.
Although the switch-off may seem like a daunting prospect to business leaders, it does have a number of benefits to offer. The traditional technology offered by PSTN, and ISDN is no longer fit-for-purpose at a time when we’re increasingly relying on global, fast-rate communications. Broadband connections delivered through the IP environment will allow companies to achieve a higher level of scalability, redundancy, and quality in their communications.
Once you have a clear view of what the PSTN/ISDN switch-off is, and when it’s happening, the next stage is understanding which technologies in your organization are likely to be affected. Some people assume this transition will only affect their traditional “copper” phone lines. However, all of the services that use the conventional phone line network will be affected. Because PSTN supports connectivity options like FTTC and ASDL broadband, you may need to change your entire network strategy when the switch-off takes place.
To ensure you’re implementing the right plan for migration, and avoiding disruption wherever possible, it will be crucial to conduct a full audit of your current communication system. In other words, explore what your technology infrastructure looks like today, and highlight all of the services which may be influenced by the PSTN/IDSN switch-off.
The most common voice-connected services likely to be affected by the switch-off include:
The next step in planning for your migration away from PSTN and IDSN technology is determining how you’re going to make your transition. There are a few options to choose from, both from a connectivity perspective and in relation to voice services.
For your connectivity, you may need to switch away from FTTC and ASDL broadband to one of the following:
For your voice services, you’ll be able to choose between either moving your entire communication ecosystem online, maintaining a portion of your on-premises technology or working with a specialist on-premises technology provider for “Private Automatic Branch Exchange” services.
When assessing your options, make sure you consider:
When choosing the ideal migration plan for your switch away from PSTN and ISDN, it’s worth remembering that each potential option comes with its own considerations and challenges to be aware of.
Today, the majority of companies are moving directly into the cloud, to access a greater level of agility, flexibility, and freedom. However, cloud transitions can be expensive and time-consuming for some brands. Similarly, staying on-premises may seem to save you money in the short term, but could cost you more in terms of maintenance in the long term.
If you decide to move your communications system into the cloud, you’ll adopt technology which allows your phone and PCs to connect to a router, into the SIP environment. The Session Initiation Protocol technology will manage multimedia communications on your behalf, allowing you to seamlessly make calls around the world through the internet.
Before switching to cloud, think about:
In a hybrid migration, you can continue to use your conventional PBX, and leverage a range of analogue and digital phone networks. However, you should also be able to expand your connections to the internet using the SIP landscape and IP protocols. Think about:
While some companies may find staying on-premises to be the best solution for maintaining high levels of security and control, this can be the most problematic option for long-term functionality. Ultimately, you won’t be able to maintain a fully on-premises environment, as you will need to connect your technology to the internet.
The considerations here are mostly the same as those used by people considering a “hybrid” strategy. However, you’ll also need to think about how much it’s going to cost to upgrade, manage and maintain the ageing technology in your landscape. Infrastructure and hardware costs can also be a significant concern for those staying on-premises.
Once you’ve considered all of the points of your migration process, the next step is rolling out your migration. Decide whether you’re going to start with a site-based or functionality-based migration, or whether you want to roll everything out at once. Generally, it’s a good idea to create a step-by-step strategy where you can roll simple changes out gradually, and make alterations as you go.
Implement pilot plans to test user adoption, and group functionality into buckets so you can ensure everything in your new system works according to plan. Remember to test for resilience and security too and keep your team members up to date at every stage of the migration.
If you need more help planning for your ISDN/PTSN switch-off strategy, you can watch the full webinar recording from the Resonate team here.