What services are impacted by the ISDN/PSTN Switch off?

While most businesses are already familiar with the concept of the ISDN/PSTN switch-off announced by BT in 2015, many still haven’t prepared for how they’re going to transition into a new IP-driven world. According to recent surveys, 24% of UK businesses haven’t planned for their next step.

One of the main reasons companies are underprepared, is they aren’t fully aware of what this switch-off is going to mean to their available services. The removal of PSTN and ISDN technology from the UK landscape doesn’t just impact PBX systems. It can also influence a company’s broadband services and various other technologies.

Here’s your guide to which services are going to be affected by the ISDN/PSTN switch-off, and how to define whether your business will be impacted.

What Services Will be Affected by the Switch Off?

The IDSN/PTSN switch-off is set to be completed by the end of 2025, meaning following this date, all services which use the copper phone network will be affected. This includes all traditional “landline” telephony used by companies around the UK today. If you have an ISDN-based PBX in your office, this will become obsolete, unless you switch to a new solution.

However, it’s not just the phones in your company which might be influenced by the switch off. PSTN is also responsible for supporting other services which provide access to FTTC and ADSL broadband. These services will also stop at the end of 2025, which means you’ll need to upgrade your internet connection and the services linked to it.

In some cases, companies may also need to change their CCTV cameras, payment terminals, security alarms, and a range of other tools as these are often connected to POTS lines

Do You Have a POTS Line? How to Know if You’ll be Affected

To determine whether the ISDN/PTSN switch-off will impact you, the first thing you’ll need to do is define what kind of communication system you’re using. The term “POTS” or Plain Old Telephone Service is frequently used to describe any company using the PTSN ecosystem.

Essentially, the POTS is an analogue voice transmission system installed with copper wires, which provide power and connectivity to a central switching system.

Here’s how to determine whether you have a POTS line:

  • Is your business phone system mobile? If you’re using a mobile phone system, rather than a traditional “landline” for your communications, you probably don’t have a POTS or a VoIP line. You have a completely different cellular phone line. These lines will not be affected by the PSTN switch-off, but they may not be able to access all business phone features.
  • What’s your cord connection? If you’re using a phone system connected to a cord or wire in your office, this can give you an insight into which phone network you’re using. If your phone connects via an Ethernet cable, this means it’s likely a VoIP phone, so you’re already prepared for the IP switchover. If you’re connected to the wall by a traditional phone cord, this could mean you have a POTS solution in place.
  • If you have a PBX is it plugged into an ISDN30 line? This is not always so easy to tell, as the connectors look similar to ethernet cables. The ports on the right are ISDN 30 ones and the ethernet ones are in yellow next to them
  • ATA adapter: If there’s an analogue phone adapter, or “ATA box” somewhere along your phone line, this usually means you’re using a VoIP phone. These tools are used to transform a traditional telephone into a device capable of VoIP calls. If you don’t have one of these boxes, it could mean you’re using a POTS.
  • Does your phone go out in a power outage? A phone line which remains up and running during a power outage is most likely to be a POTS line. However, there’s a chance you could have a VoIP system with a backup battery linked to the system.
  • Who runs your phone service? A phone service offered by a traditional cable provider is likely to be a VoIP phone line. However, a phone provided by a conventional phone provider may be a regular phone line. Looking through your telephone bill is a good starting point, services may be listed on your bill and ISDN prices are high and likely to be increasing to encourage you to move away.

    Phones connected to specific store locations, lift phones, and phone/fax systems are most likely to belong to the POTS environment. Emergency phones and alarm systems are also more commonly PSTN-connected than VoIP-based.

What Should You Do Next?

Once you’ve determined what kind of phone line you have, you’ll be able to decide whether you’re going to be affected by the ISDN/PTSN switch-off. If you have a POTS solution in place, you’ll need to make sure you switch over to an IP or Internet Protocol phone solution before 2025.

For most companies, it will be important to start assessing potential switch-over options as quickly as possible, as this will give you more time to determine whether you want to take a VoIP or SIP trunking route.

VoIP is usually the strategy you’ll use to replace your entire phone system, while SIP trunking allows you to leverage your existing technology and phone numbers while moving to IP technology. Make sure you’re ready for the transition by examining all of the tools and services you have connected to your POTS technology, Resonate can help you do this and also help you to make your switchover as simple as possible.

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