What is the ‘Big Switch Off’?

They were fairly low-key announcements considering their huge historical significance, but in 2015 and 2017 BT announced their intention to completely ‘switch off’ two of their traditional phone networks the moment Big Ben ushers in the start of 2026. 

If you hadn’t the foggiest idea that this was about to happen, then rest assured you aren’t alone. 

But what does this mean and how will it impact people and businesses across the UK? 

What exactly are these networks then?

Well essentially, they are two different types of network that transfer information such as voice and data over our phone lines.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) has been around as long as Alexander Graham Bell himself (as early as the 1870’s to be precise) and is an analogue signalling service allowing calls to be made over individual copper and fibre telephone lines.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) first appeared in the mid-80’s and was seen as the replacement to the analogue network and (the name is probably a giveaway) uses digital transmissions. It allowed more than one device to work on the same line and is also faster than the analogue service.

So, why are they getting rid of them?

Well, it’s like most things in life really, in that it has run its course and modern technology has simply made it defunct. We can now do things better and there is no need to rely on and for that matter maintain antiquated, ancient systems of communication.  We have come a long way in a relatively short period and need to move with the times.

It’s similar to stating ‘Why do I need a computer when I can use an abacus?’

Furthermore, people / businesses communicate far more with each other and in different ways than they did only a few years ago and we need something that can accommodate this permanent cultural shift. 

How will this affect me?

Anything that still uses the old lines will be affected, so telephones and things such as fax machines and alarms as well as some broadband services.

What would I need to do then?

Well, there is certainly no immediate rush, but the clock is ticking and it is something that you will need to start at least thinking about soon. 

The great thing is that the alternatives offer you greater quality of calls, flexibility, cost effectiveness, increased capability and superb functionality, so it’s going to be a ‘win, win’ all-round for everyone.

To put it simply, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or Digital Voice technology will supersede the obsolete networks. This is a way of transmitting calls over the internet rather than the ‘old fashioned’ use of a telephone line. It’s the same technology that is used for well-established services you may already be familiar with, such as ‘Facetime’, ‘Skype’ and ‘What’s App.

There are a few different options available to engage with VoIP, and it is easy to become bamboozled with the myriad of technical acronyms. 

Perhaps though, the future unsurprisingly lies within the cloud. A cloud-based phone system integrates all of your organisation’s devices seamlessly, is location independent, has multiple features available to you and doesn’t require the physical ‘kit’ associated with traditional phone systems, as it uses software programmes. It is also easily scalable, so it can grow (or downsize) with you and your business. 

Would I need to drastically change anything then?

No, not really. In fact, other than the benefits already mentioned, from the outside employees will not notice much difference. You will pay a chosen host a monthly fee (as you do now) and you can even keep your existing phone numbers.

Like we said before, the ‘Big Switch Off’ really is a ‘win-win’ for everyone and should be welcomed with open arms!

If you would like to learn more about preparing your telecoms for the 2025 shutdown, click here to get in touch

15th November 2022