How to prepare for BT's transition to fully digital communications


How to prepare for BT's transition to fully digital communications

By December 2025, the traditional analogue phone network (the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN) will reach the end of its life and newer digital technologies will take its place. This means that over 16 million lines and channels will be upgraded to alternative products over the next six years within the UK.

In our latest blog post, managing director Gordon Christie discusses the scheduled changes to telephony and broadband services and the impact that this could have on you and your business.

What services are affected?

“In short, anything that is currently using a copper line. Essentially, every single Openreach service that is currently utilising copper lines will be affected.

“The most apparent services are analogue telephone lines (PSTN) and digital ISDN lines but it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just about telephone services, any service that uses this infrastructure will also be impacted. This includes:

  • Analogue voice telephone services and any service that use these lines including Dial-up devices.
  • ISDN 2e and ISDN 30e lines which are mainly used by phone systems.
  • EPOS machines, door entry systems, CCTV
  • Broadband services that run over an analogue telephone line e.g. ADSL and also FTTC Fibre Broadband

What is happening and when?

“BT Openreach will be switching off services at each exchange. The first stage is to announce a ‘stop sell’ date for each exchange, meaning that after this date, no new affected services can be ordered and changes to existing services, no matter how minor, cannot be made.

“There are already over 200 exchanges that will be in the ‘stop sell’ phase by January 2022 and two years after the stop sell date all services cease at that exchange.”

National ‘stop sell’ date

“This week's announcement confirmed that September 2023 is the national ‘stop sell’ for all exchanges in the UK. With a scheduled completion date of 2025, it is intended that from this point users will need to use all-IP.”

Is IP better than PSTN?

“Yes. Some of the telephone lines have been around since the 20th century which means that the PSTN network is continually falling behind the needs of modern technology.

“Even at the most basic level, it’s better for business. You’ll be able to make and take calls on any device, from wherever you are, from the same number. By linking your business applications and systems to video chat, calls and collaboration systems you can communicate easily with clients and staff.

“By moving everything to the cloud, you can access your systems from anywhere, meaning that you can work from home, the office or even on your commute.”

What does this mean for my business?

“Most businesses will be impacted by the switch off, and unfortunately there is no real option other than to switch to a more modern service offering.

What do I need to do?

“You need to start planning your move sooner rather than later because there could be a lot to do. The last thing you want is to leave the move to the last minute and then find yourself still waiting in a queue for an engineer when the ‘stop sell’ day arrives.

This could result in your business going without an internet connection or phone line, costing your business time and money.

Remember, it’s not just about calls. You need to review everything that is connected to your phone lines, such as door entry systems and alarms. Many businesses have already embraced an all-digital model, moving their communications to the cloud, making calls over the internet and embracing video conferencing.”

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How to prepare for BT's transition to fully digital communications