Should you worry about the end of analogue phone lines

In 2021, BT announced that the entire analogue phone infrastructure (PSTN) would be switched off in 2025. You might be thinking that’s plenty of time to get organised, but is it? Think about it, this is the entire network – businesses and homes – the impact is huge. Every home telephone line, every Red-Care line, every lift line, and every old-style gate system will all need engineer time to modernise to the new Voice over IP (VoIP) technology.

The change is necessary and welcome. As our world becomes more reliant on digital technology, the old PSTN system is going to struggle. Many countries are already ahead of the UK and have switched off their PSTN systems entirely.

However, it’s likely that many will leave changing their systems until the last few months before the deadline. This means there will be a huge spike in demand for engineer time as everyone realises their phones will stop working tomorrow. The consequence of this is there will be an inability to book engineers at short notice and quite possibly price-hiking by the companies who do have the capacity to intervene on premises before the deadline.

So, it’s time to start thinking about the impact of this change from PSTN to VoIP. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about your options:

  • Broadband – if you’re still on an old-style ADSL system then this will be impacted by the switchover.
  • Cabling – old-style phone cables may need to be replaced with modern Cat5 or Cat6 network cables
  • Alarm/security systems – if these are currently operating on an analogue Red-Care line then you need to talk to your supplier about your options
  • Lifts – if you’re a real estate management company and your lift maintenance company have not yet approached you, then you should ask them why not! Now is the time to look at options to upgrade your emergency lift lines to either VoIP or SIM

You also need to think about the impact these changes may have on your business and how that might influence your options and timescales:

  • Depending on how your office or premises are currently set up, re-laying cables may temporarily disrupt your business operations
  • Regarding lift lines, SIM might be a more cost-effective solution, but do you need to do any work to enable cell signal in a metallic lift shaft?

One last crucial point of consideration is this: the main difference between PSTN and VoIP is that the latter needs a power supply to operate. What happens if your building’s power supply is interrupted? There are two ways to counter this:

  • A UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). This is a type of battery that can temporarily manage the electricity requirement of essential IT equipment should the mains power fail
  • A traditional generator that kicks in when the mains power supply is down

With all this in mind, the best way forward is to talk to both your IT and telecom suppliers so you can get a comprehensive view of your options. Many traditional telecom operators do not have a full understanding of VoIP, particularly when it comes to resilience planning, therefore you will need the support of your IT team to help you plan for the worst, all whilst minimising the need for large capital outlays. The key is to start planning now, ensuring that you can make the right decision for you and your business and that the 2025 deadline doesn’t force you into a rushed and possibly costly decision.

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