Starting early is a good idea if you want to be sure that the big switch-off of PSTN and the switch-over to cloud voice is a smooth and simple one for your business
You may well be aware that the big planned switch-off of the PSTN network is due to happen sometime in 2025. You may also not be at all troubled by this fact. But complacency is the friend of chaos and while there is certainly no need to panic, there is also every reason to start making plans to switch over to hosted voice services as soon as possible.
Moving to hosted VoIP is already very easy. There are some very well-established services – Gamma’s Horizon and BT Cloud Voice, for example. These solutions can make use of your existing broadband connection and when you switch to them, it’s probably also a good idea to upgrade your broadband as well.
If, like most businesses now, you are making more use of cloud-based services, you are going to need additional bandwidth at some point. Having additional bandwidth will also give you more room for voice connections. One way or another, you’ll become even more dependent on your connection.
Dependency is what’s really key here. Just about every business relies very heavily on their connection to the Internet now. But while we all use email and other forms of messaging nowadays, we also need our voice lines to be always-on and available. No organisation can be credible without having a number in the phone book – a central number that customers, suppliers and partners can ring when they want to talk to someone at the company, and through which they can reach all individuals and departments within the business.
Callers may fully expect that number to be answered by an auto-attendant feature today, but once they have jumped that particular fence, most will expect and want to be put through to someone. Or, at the vert least, be able to leave a message.
Equally, a business of any size needs to be able to call out from a central phone line. Again, for credibility and also to maintain control of calls and costs.
There may also be services that you use that depend on having a voice line. Your security and fire alarm systems for example, or support services for emergency equipment breakdowns. You may operate inbound services as well, which customers can call during business hours or even on a 24/7 basis.
Ready or not
If you use or offer any of these services now, you will presumably also want to keep using and offering them when you switch over to cloud-based voice, so you need to be certain that they will work. In theory, they should. But Openreach itself has admitted in trade articles that it does not know how many such services are out there or whether or not they will work properly when the time comes to switch over to purely digital, IP-based voice.
Your current providers should be taking steps to make sure that their services will work and, like you, they may be thinking that they have plenty of time – for now. But the deadline will get closer with every day, week and month that passes.
Our advice is to start looking at the options for hosted VoIP right away. As we have mentioned, there are plenty of credible and well-established services available already and by talking to experts in the field – or to your local trusted advisor on IT and comms – you will be able to start laying out some plans. An important part of that will be thinking about and seeking-out any services that may be dependent on voice lines and assessing how they will be impacted by the switch.
This in itself may take some time, so starting early is a good idea. Everyone is still in the early stages of assessing exactly what the PSTN switch-off will mean for them. One thing is certain, the change will be made and once it is made, there will be no going back. At that point it will be too late for a smooth transition. The early bird, as they say, is the one that catches the worm.
The big switch-off of PSTN and the switch-over to cloud-based voice will certainly bring significant benefits to businesses in the UK, both in the immediate and long-terms. For that reason alone, there is no reason to delay. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to assess the implications and make the transition as smooth and simple as possible.