The Right Tech: Preparing your Business for the End of the Traditional Phone Network

If you run a business in the UK, you are probably aware of the looming demise of that country's conventional phone network. The UK-based telecoms giant BT has revealed that, in 2025, it will switch off its PSTN and ISDN networks to give way to IP voice services.

In phasing out the outdated ISDN network, BT will stop accepting new ISDN orders as soon as next year, putting the onus on businesses to modernize their phone systems sooner rather than later.

A short history of PSTN and ISDN

Given how easily you can habitually use a phone system for years without needing to pay too much attention to the technology making it all possible, you might wonder what PSTN and ISDN actually are. Both of these acronyms refer to ageing tenets of traditional telephone procedures.

PSTN - Public Switched Telephone Network - came first, originally to facilitate analogue voice communication. It later became acclaimed for its reliability in enabling voice calls, as well as the world's main carrier for internet activity.

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network - is a more recent invention, and allowed services including voice and video to be digitally transmitted simultaneously over the traditional PSTN network. However, while PSTN and ISDN lines have seen many updates in their decades-long history, their setup and design remain largely unaltered from those of the original nineteenth-century lines.

Are you ready to migrate from PSTN and ISDN?

Alas, research suggests that there might remain a fair few holdouts. In 2017, over two million UK businesses still had an ISDN connection, Company Bug notes. That same year, a quarter of the country's businesses admitted to not knowing that the switch-off was about to happen.

If your own business has not carefully prepared for the 2025 cut-off point, you and your workers could eventually be left without a functioning business phone system. Therefore, it's important that you act now, though you might remain uncertain as to exactly how you should.

Consider SIP trunks or a fully-fledged VoIP system

Given the broad array of tech on which your company probably routinely relies, you could feel daunted by the prospect of having to slowly strip parts of it away to replace it with comparatively modern tech with which your workers can operate significantly more flexibly.

However, updating your company's phone infrastructure is not as time-consuming as you might have initially anticipated. For example, your firm's private branch exchange (PBX) can be left intact if you configure it with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks.

SIP trunks would enable you to benefit from flexible and cost-effective online calls without needing to forgo traditional handsets. However, you could further future-proof your phone system by transferring it to a full, internet-based VoIP system, for which you would fully axe your PBX system.

Even a thorough, hosted VoIP phone service provided by a company like Planet Numbers would, on the hardware front, only require you to source new handsets, which are meant to be plugged right into your broadband's Ethernet sockets.