Business phone systems
Closure of landlines and fixed telephone services
The UK's landline telephone network is becoming obsolete. Over the next few years, all landline phones will be replaced with a digital network, also known as an IP network. Many customers in the UK are already using the new service.
Are copper phone lines going away?
Yes, the UK's traditional 'copper wire' telephone network is due to close by December 2025.
End of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
The PSTN, in use since the late 1800s, is based on analogue technology that is designed to connect voice calls across physical lines from network to network all across the world. The equipment that runs the PSTN is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and is no longer fit for the future.
Telecoms companies are gradually moving their customers over to a new system known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which is completely digital and sends voice calls as data.
Switching to VoIP - business implications
The closure of PSTN offers potential benefits such as clearer phone calls, and the transition should be largely straightforward for most business customers.
However, some consequences of the switchover will require consideration and forward planning. For example, from September 2023, in most cases, you will not be able to order new PSTN and ISDN services in the UK.
You may also need to replace, upgrade or reconfigure certain services that rely on the PSTN if you want them to operate effectively after the switch off. These services may include, for example:
- fax machines
- communications systems in lifts
- personal, fire and security alarms which call monitoring centres
You might also have equipment such as card payment machines connected to your landline that might not work once you migrate to a VoIP service.
What do you need to do to switch to VoIP?
The PSTN is set to close in 2025, but different telecoms companies may switch over to digital at different times depending on their plans.
If you change provider or upgrade your services, you may be offered an IP voice service. If you don't change, your provider will get in touch with you to let you know what steps to take and when.
Most customers will be given a chance to switch over on a voluntary basis, but some final migrations may need to be compulsory, with sufficient warning, to ensure all customers move from the relevant networks prior to the final PSTN switch-off deadline.
If your business still uses PSTN or ISDN connection, you should start thinking about switching to VoIP telephony sooner rather than later. Read about the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP.
In addition, if you use alarms or faxes, you should consider whether your existing equipment is compatible with future VoIP services, or if you may need to source alternatives.
Openreach has published factsheets for businesses who use phone lines to deliver services to help them understand how the move to VoIP services will affect them.
If you have questions and would like to better understand how to prepare, you can contact your provider. Early preparation is particularly important for businesses that have multiple sites and/or require multiple lines.