7 Steps to Prepare Your Business for the UK ISDN / PSTN Switch-Off


CHAPTER 5: How to Prepare and Safeguard Your Business

You’ve likely already heard that BT Openreach is switching off the UK’s historic copper telephone line network. In fact, they’ve already started in some areas.

In this article learn how to prepare your business and colleagues for a  smooth transition from analogue to digital communication and collaboration tools.


  • What is the PSTN switch-off all about?
  • How can my business prepare for the PSTN switch-off?
  • Why do I need to check we have the right connectivity in place?
  • What services will be affected by the switch-off?
  • What applications and hardware do we need to upgrade to digital communications?
  • How to create a communications migration strategy
  • How to reduce transition downtime through testing
  • Why do I need to review network security as part of my communications migration?
  • How to avoid loss of communication if connectivity goes down


In the current changing telecoms environment, companies need to install new technologies and make infrastructure changes. The PSTN switch-off is a major transition that will have significant repercussions for businesses of all sizes. 

Only 15% of SME businesses have plans to upgrade their systems and move away from PSTN in 2023. In some estimates, it’s suggested that up to 70% of total UK businesses are still using PSTN. 

PSTN has been a dependable support system for voice and data communications for many years. Nonetheless, as the industry moves towards more modern and efficient alternatives, businesses must prepare, to reduce the risks associated with the PSTN switch-off.  In this article, we share the crucial steps organisations should take, to secure their operations during this change. 


Understanding the PSTN Switch-Off

To safeguard your business, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the PSTN switch-off and its consequences. Conventional PSTN connections rely on copper-based infrastructure for transmitting voice and data. However, with the advancement of digital technology, telecom providers are replacing PSTN with internet-based protocols like SIP and VoIP. The transition is driven by the benefits these new technologies offer, such as scalability, affordability, and enhanced features. 

The BT Switch Off: Everything Your Business Needs To Know


How to Prepare Your Business for the PSTN Switch Off   

1. Ensure You Have the Right Connectivity in Place 

While all businesses rely on internet connectivity to function, reliable, high-quality connectivity has become essential in readiness for the switch to digital communications. Digital voice, chat and video call applications by their nature need high-bandwidth, robust and low-latency connectivity. Digital communication tools need a high-quality internet connection to allow clear voice calls, issue-free video conferencing, and instant collaboration tools. 

Whether it’s fixed or mobile, your business needs connectivity that’s powerful enough to handle today’s usage as well as the upgrade to digital telecoms plus any future demands. 

For example, is your current connectivity robust and resilient? Do you have the bandwidth to easily manage your current applications plus any new technology on its way? Would any new applications you add interrupt your digital voice calls? It pays to be prepared and with the upgrade to digital voice coming very soon, now is the right time to review your internet connectivity. 

2. Assess Your Current Business Communications Infrastructure 

The first step in safeguarding your business during the PSTN switch-off is to conduct a thorough evaluation of your current infrastructure. This analysis of your comms and connectivity infrastructure will help identify dependencies on PSTN lines and equipment. This process allows you to understand important factors, such as the number of ISDN lines your business currently uses and the type: analogue, ISDN2 or ISDN30. It’s also important to establish what other relevant services your company is using. For example: 


Equipment Affected by the PSTN Switch Off

Direct Line PhonesDDI NumbersPayphone Lines
Fax LinesAlarm LinesRedcare Alarm Lines
Panic AlarmsVideo Conference LinesEmergency Lift Lines
PDQ Payment TerminalsEPOS TerminalsFranking Machines


 3. Review Alternative Options to ISDN Lines 

Now that you have a comprehensive overview of your current ISDN position, the next step is to review and compare the alternative digital IP solutions and products available. Speak to your communications provider or team with an expert independent provider that can recommend the right upgrade to fit your business needs.  

4. Plan a Communications Migration Strategy 

An essential step to pave the way for a smooth transition from ISDN lines to a modern communication solution is the creation of a migration strategy. Begin with setting clear objectives and deadlines for the decommissioning of ISDN lines. From here you should identify and collaborate with key stakeholders in the process, assign key tasks to team members and create a project timeline. By taking the time to plan out all key tasks effectively, you can expect a more hassle-free experience when making the switch from ISDN to digital IP telecoms. Partnering with an established Managed Service Provider will simplify this stage significantly as they will project manage the installation and onboarding of your new telecoms system. 

5. Test and Optimise Your New Digital Communications Solution 

Once you have procured an alternative digital comms solution, you need to make sure it is thoroughly tested and optimised before the PSTN switch-off. Conduct small-scale tests with a limited number of lines or users to assess the performance, reliability and compatibility of your new system. This allows you to analyse the results and minimise any downtime when it comes to launching your new system in full. Train your employees on the new system to ensure a smooth transition and minimise disruption to daily operations. 

 6. Review Your Network Security

When companies make the switch to digital communication methods, safeguarding network IT Security is crucial. To avoid the growing risks of cyber threats, it is important to shield your new VoIP system or SIP trunking infrastructure.  

To achieve this, it is recommended that you implement robust security measures like firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems as part of your new communication system. It is also essential that your business regularly updates and patches your systems to fix any weaknesses. Employees should be educated on the significance of strong passwords, identifying phishing scams and practising safe online behaviour to mitigate the risks of cyberattacks. 

7. Establish Redundancy and Failover Plans

To ensure business continuity, remember to include redundancy and failover plans as part of your strategy. Any proposed new system you are considering should include backup features such as secondary internet connections or mobile data connections to maintain communication in case of service interruptions or downtime. Configure failover mechanisms within your new systems to automatically switch to alternative connections if primary lines experience downtime. Make a point to regularly test your failover method to check its continued effectiveness. 


Preparing for the PSTN Switch-Off – Conclusions 

With the PSTN switch-off coming over the horizon fast, businesses must take a proactive approach to protect their operations. To ensure a successful transition, organisations must comprehend the change, review connectivity needs, assess their current infrastructure, develop a migration strategy, trial new solutions, give network security priority and establish backup and failover plans. 

By embracing new digital communication technologies, you will future-proof your businesses plus gain access yo new opportunities for growth and efficiency. Stay ahead of the curve and ensure a smooth transition as you wave goodbye to historic PSTN and say hello to the advancements opportunities in the digital era. 


How we can help

The UK upgrade to a digital telecoms network is a transition we can help you navigate. We can:

  • Ensure you have the right connectivity in place, and if you have, make sure it is optimised and you aren’t paying over the odds.
  • Recommend the right digital telecoms and collaboration service and hardware for your business
  • Plan your communications migration strategy
  • Test and optimise your new digitals comms solution
  • Review your network security with a free IT Health Check
  • Provide backup connectivity so you never lose touch with your customers

Any questions? Need a helping hand? Have a chat with one of our experts call 0151 547 7997 or you can send us a message here.


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