What is the Great British Switch Off?

Our current telephone system is essentially based on voice lines. This implies that even if a user only wishes to install internet on their premises, they will also require a voice phone line. 

The Great British Switch Off is the transition of our telephone network from a voice-based system to a more modern full-fibre telephone system.

To do so, Openreach will remove the the voice element of the network, replace it with fibre and finally switch off the PSTN.

It is one of the most important changes in our telephone network history. The new network will have to support all our current and new telecommunication technologies for decades to come and will revolutionize the way we communicate.

What is the PSTN?

PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. This 140-year-old technology is the basis of what we commonly know as our traditional voice telephone network. Since its launch in the late 1800s, this network composed of 75 million miles of copper wire has provided businesses and households alike with a reliable means to communicate with anyone around the world. 

Why is the PSTN being switched Off?

The PSTN has served us well over the years. It has been part of major technological advancements; such as the internet revolution. However, with our growing demand for data, this system is rapidly becoming obsolete.

This is why back in 2017, BT officially announced the gradual withdrawal of the voice element of the network, for the benefit of fibre.

The new network will have many benefits:

  • Faster performance
  • Quicker to install
  • More reliable 
  • Easier to repair 
  • More flexible

When is it happening?

Although the end of the withdrawal of traditional voice lines is planned for December 2025, the transition to fibre is happening now

In December 2020, Salisbury became the first city in the country to receive a Stop Sell Notification from Openreach.

A Stop Sell notification is when people and businesses based in a targeted exchange (the piece of equipment establishing a call connection between two subscribers for a given area) will no longer be able to buy or upgrade any products requiring a voice line. They therefore will have to switch to fibre.

2021 marks an acceleration in the Switch Off process, with 170 exchanges to be targeted by Openreach Stop Sell notification.  By 2023 the whole country will be under Stop Sell status.

It is paramount to check when it will happen in your area to start preparing and avoid being taken aback.

What are the consequences for not taking action now?

Chances are that sometime before the PSTN switch off, telephone companies will experience a rush of orders from people and businesses needing to get their system changed in urgency. These people and businesses will be running the risk of going without any telephone systems until they can finally get their new VoIP phone installed.

Can your business afford it?

What are the solutions?

The change to fibre eliminates the voice element of the network. This means that people and businesses will no longer be able to make a call the traditional way and will have to equip themselves with Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone systems. 

Voice over IP is part of the next generation technologies that allow you to place a phone call over the internet.

There are two main VoIP systems:

  • Hosted: It is a phone system housed in the cloud, rather than in your office. 
  • SIP trunk:  It is a service that connects your existing on-premise PBX equipment to the internet, thereby eliminating the need for a traditional landline or digital phone services.

Which one will be the best suited to you will depend entirely on your specific business needs, hence the necessity of a thorough assessment of your situation.

What to do next?

Contact your 2 Circles representative via 03456 200 200 or [email protected] to find out what solution is best for your company, our dedicated team of experts will be happy to guide you during that very important process.