The Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) will close in December 2025. Ahead of that date, every phone line in the UK will have moved to a fully digital network that uses Internet Protocol (IP) across a fibre-based service.
Voice services will be affected, and many premises will also need to upgrade their broadband. Any equipment that currently uses the PSTN will stop working. That includes alarms, EPOS machines, door entry systems, and CCTV. And the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) will also stop working.
Julien Parven, director, Daisy Partner Business, explained this transition poses “a massive risk and a massive challenge to UK business”. The transition to all-IP is “opening the door for businesses to have a look at their core technology”.
There remain many businesses across the UK that have “a reliance on a backbone of legacy technology and legacy services that – even before the announcement of the stop sell and the switch off – were becoming not fit for purpose.”
Migrating to newer connectivity, Parven said, will “improve efficiencies” as well as “future-proofing businesses to be able to make changes moving forward as they will have more malleable and dynamic infrastructure”. This transition offers every business an “opportunity to gain a competitive edge”.
Investing in the future
Businesses across the UK, Parven said, fall into three segments. The first segment is the early adopters. For these organisations “their whole business dynamic has shifted”, with technology unlocking a “new way of working”.
The second segment, Parven said, is comprised of organisations that have made some changes but, whether due to operational constraints or choice, have not been “in a position to make that full leap into the early adopters”.
The third segment spans organisations that are still “struggling to make the move from on-premise solutions”. Businesses in this segment have not invested in their technology for a number of years but “this change is forcing them to look at that investment and make the right decisions”.
The Channel can work with businesses in any of these three segments to ensure they are moved onto the services that are right for their organisation. Yet there will be challenges on the path to all-IP.
Parven said, “The infrastructure needs to catch up with the changes that are in place. You can’t lift a legacy WLR network and move everybody onto an all-IP backbone, because the stop sell only kicks in when 75 per cent of premises are served by alternatives. So, there is going to be a lag in certain businesses being able to catch up.”
He added, “Out in the marketplace, there is an element of denial, there’s an element of apathy, and there’s an element of complete disbelief. People don’t quite believe that, at some point, you could be picking the phone up and there won’t be a dial tone.”
For those businesses that do see what is coming, Parven said the timeline isn’t necessarily giving them a sense of urgency. He explained, “Businesses are looking at that December 2025 milestone and they think that date is in the distance. They don’t realise the implications of what happens from this September when exchanges accelerate into stop sell.
“At that point, you can’t make changes to your existing estate, you can’t add users and, if you’re moving premises, you can’t take your existing technology with you and keep the same number. That’s the reality. And I don’t think there’s been enough communication around it.”
Parven said there has not been a single vehicle that is driving a “consistent and continual” message about what is on the horizon. In May, Daisy Communications and Daisy Partner Business were named National Champions of Fit to Switch, a new Comms Business project to educate end user businesses from different sectors about potential risks to their business when Openreach switches off the PSTN network.
Fit To Switch provides a platform for the industry to collaborate, own this narrative and ultimately to have their Channel partners upgrade their clients’ networks and be ready for an all-IP world. Parven explained that Daisy Communications and Daisy Partner Business joined the campaign as it is a natural extension of what the companies were trying to do.
He added, “The industry has to lead this because there isn’t a clear direction that is being presented out to UK business. We’ve got a responsibility to be part of that change and to help drive that change. Small businesses need help to make this transition and that help won’t come from the major providers. Independent providers that are local will guide them and can create that journey to all-IP for them.”
Channel partners need to get out and speak to their customers today about the upcoming changes so there is time to review options and migrate to all-IP.
Parven said, “Doing nothing is not an option. Business leaders, owners, and directors have a responsibility to protect the future of their businesses. This change will happen. WLR has proved untenable and financially unviable for Openreach to continue to maintain. That’s why the switch-off is happening.
"You can’t wait and think you have two and a half years to make a decision. The decision needs to be made now because the wheels need to be set in motion. The time is now.”