How UK Businesses Can Prepare for the PSTN Switch-Off

Sophie GaneLast updated on March 27, 2024
6 min

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The UK’s Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be closed on 31st December 2025. It’s set to mark the end of the analogue era and usher in an age of modernised communication. All phone lines for UK businesses will transition to a fully digital network, meaning traditional landlines will be replaced by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. What does it mean for your business, and how can you prepare? 

What does the PSTN switch-off mean?  

When the PSTN switch-off takes place at the end of 2025, calls will no longer operate via the copper cables that have been part of the UK’s communication network since 1876.  Despite their age, as many as 2.4 million UK businesses still rely on these PSTN or ISDN lines. 

While they’ve had a good innings, today these ageing cables are better suited as museum pieces than essential communication infrastructure. That’s because they’re fragile, hard to maintain and unable to carry the amount of information that businesses and consumers need to share today. 

What will be used instead of the PSTN? 

Don’t worry, we’re not going back to carrier pigeons. Instead, every phone line in the UK will be a fully-digital network that uses Internet Protocol (IP) to send data over a fibre-based infrastructure. 

In contrast to the electrical signals sent through the old copper cables, fibre-optic communication sends pulses of visible light through an optical fibre cable. If that all sounds like science fiction, the bottom line is it’s capable of sending much more information, faster, and with lower risk of interference than those old copper cables. 

How should my business prepare? 

The first thing to do if you’re unsure about whether you’re still relying on the PSTN network is to contact your telecoms provider. They will be able to tell you about options to upgrade that suit your needs and budget.  

The second step is ensuring you have a communication platform in place that uses Internet Protocol. If, so far, you’ve been relying on analogue phone hardware, this means you need a new business phone solution for making and receiving calls. There are a few options here, but you’ll likely find the most convenient one is to upgrade to a cloud-based VoIP phone system

Having a communication and intelligence platform based on VoIP means you’ll be fully connected after the PSTN switch-off. These platforms work by digitising voice signals and transferring it over an internet network. 

So, as a quick summary, step one is ensuring you’re on a fibre network, which your telecoms provider can assist with. Step two is getting yourself set-up with a VoIP solution for making and receiving calls. 

Once this is in place, when you make a call using a VoIP platform on a fibre network your voice is instantly transformed into digital information which is then communicated as pulses of light fired through an optic cable at ultra-fast speeds. Go science!

Alongside making you feel futuristic, these VoIP systems offer several practical benefits to your business, including: 

  • Lower call rates 

  • Fewer maintenance costs or issues 

  • Greater flexibility - as they they can be set-up on almost any device connected to the internet 

  • Superior voice quality

  • Modern features that go beyond basic calling capabilities  

For a closer look at these and more, check out our full guide on the benefits of using a VoIP provider

What does the UK's PSTN switch-off mean for my sales and customer support teams?

Ultimately, the UK’s PSTN switch-off is a good thing for customer-facing teams like sales and customer support.

That’s not only because it means the whole communication network is becoming more reliable, but because by moving to a VoIP system those teams gain access to features that will make work more pleasant and productive. 

Unlike the old PSTN network and analogue phones, which were only capable of basic phone calls, a future-proof VoIP system can do much more. Let’s take a look at a few of those features. 

Call Analytics 

Call Analytics can automatically keep track of all your call metrics - like unanswered calls, unique callers and more - helping your sales and customer support teams to optimise their strategy and hit their KPIs. 

Call whispering 

Call whispering allows sales or customer support leaders to secretly speak to their teammates while they are on a call. It’s a great way to help solve tricky customer challenges or upskill a new hire. 

AI-powered features 

AI features like call transcription can enable customer-facing teams to easily identify insights from calls, share learnings with teammates and deliver a great customer experience. With the world of AI developing rapidly, a true customer communication and intelligence platform will ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve.  

CRM integration 

Today, the phone in your pocket is much more than just a phone. And the same goes for the phones your customer-facing teams use. With CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) integrations like Salesforce, HubSpot or Pipedrive, you can ensure your critical business tools are talking to each other - with productivity-boosting benefits like automatically logged calls, recordings, comments, tags and more.  

These are just a taster of all the business phone features available to VoIP platforms, with more being developed on an ongoing basis. Part of the beauty of VoIP platforms is that they aren’t static - they keep evolving alongside the needs of your customer support and sales teams. 

Accessing the latest and greatest updates couldn’t be easier - there’s no need for new physical infrastructure because it all lives in the cloud. The result is that all these game-changing features are at your fingertips, for whenever you need them. 

Frequently asked questions on switching to a VoIP system

Switching to a VoIP system is a simple process, but it’s natural to have some questions when making this change. Here we answer some of the most common questions you might have. 

Can I keep my existing phone numbers when switching to a cloud-based phone system? 

Yes, you can keep your existing phone number when you switch to a cloud-based phone system. At Aircall, our customer care team will help you do this, without interrupting your service. On top of porting your current number, you can also easily create new international numbers in more than 100 countries. You can learn more in our guide to portability here

How much does a VoIP phone system cost?

The cost of a VoIP system will vary depending on the solution and plan you choose, but it can work out as much cheaper for your business than a traditional landline. 

VoIP systems also come with lots of added benefits and flexibility if you need to scale your plan up or down. What’s more, they don’t require traditional hardware or maintenance - further adding value and lowering total costs. For more information, you can look at Aircall’s pricing, starting from £25, here. 

Is a VoIP phone system secure enough for my business?

Security is essential in any phone system, and cloud-based solutions like Aircall can offer peace of mind that your data is safe. Aircall is GDPR compliant, hosted on AWS and keeps data protected with encryption both in transit and at rest. You can learn more about our approach to security here.  

Does VoIP provide good call quality? 

Poor voice quality is the last thing your business, or your customer, needs. That’s why Aircall works with best-in-class global voice carriers to ensure excellent call quality. The platform is also designed to adapt to network strength - so even if the internet speed fluctuates, your call quality will be optimised. Meanwhile, 99.95% consistent uptime means disruptions are practically non-existent. If you want to learn more, you can read our full overview of VoIP call quality

A better approach to business communication 

Hopefully by now you’re feeling assured that the PSTN switch-off is set to bring benefits to your business. It’s an exciting time and marks the next step in the UK’s communication evolution. 

If you want to learn more about how you can make the switch to a cloud-based phone system and unlock the benefits of a future-proof communication and intelligence platform, get in touch with Aircall today.

Published on March 27, 2024.

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