Information about the

The Digital Switch Over

What you need to know

About the Digital switch over

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) has been in use in this country since 1876, so it’s understandably grown old and tired, and it’s becoming increasingly costly to maintain. Therefore, it needs replacing with new and modern technology, fit for the digital world we now live in.

The PSTN is simply the copper wires we currently use to make and receive telephone calls but, with technology moving forward at a rapid rate, it’s no longer necessary, or as effective, to make calls using the old, degrading system.

Instead, it’s cost-effective and more reliable to use alternative methods such as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution or a SIP Trunking product.

As a result, the PSTN will reach end of life in January 2027 and will cease operation after then. At the end of January 2027, these fixed lines and services will be switched off and services withdrawn. If any businesses or consumers have failed to switch to alternative telephony, they will ultimately be left without service.

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What do you need to do?

We’re one of a handful of providers that are actively involved in industry planning meetings regarding the PSTN Switch Off, so we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

If you’re currently on an ISDN contract, you don’t need to do anything at the moment. But be mindful that when your contract is up for renewal, you’ll probably need to switch to a hosted telephony solution.

In Salisbury and Mildenhall, Openreach has withdrawn services with PSTN in these areas gone in 2023. Replacement products will be launched earlier in these areas to ensure that everyone is well prepared.

For everyone outside of these areas, there’ll be no new installations on the PSTN from 2023. In 2027, it’ll all be turned off.

What replacement products are available?

Traditional PBX systems will be replaced by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), phone systems that allows you to make calls over the internet. The results are better quality calls, smaller bills, and a whole host of features. VoIP solutions are also scalable and can grow with your business.

There’s also the option of SIP Trunking which combines VoIP technology with your existing on-premise telephone system to preserve your current features, numbers, and call quality while adding the benefits of a hosted voice solution.

Your Questions Answered

Will the switch affect my partnership with PHMG?

Not at all! We’ll be here to make the transition of your audio branding as seamless as possible.

What is the PSTN and ISDN?

PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. It’s the copper wire network set up for analogue voice communication, meaning landlines and analogue phones. Then came the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) which uses the traditional PSTN network to allow the digital transmission of voice, video, and other services simultaneously. But with technology moving forward at a rapid rate, it’s no longer necessary, or as effective, to make calls using the old, degrading system.

Will my broadband be impacted?

If you currently have a broadband service that is supported on a single line, your provider will be in touch to migrate this to an alternative single order broadband (SOGEA). This means that your broadband will move to a single service with no line rental. If you’re using your line for voice, you’ll be offered a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) alternative. If your business needs an even faster connection, you should look into Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). Full fibre isn’t available UK-wide yet, but you can see if your business is in a full fibre enabled area with our postcode checker now. If you already have an ultrafast broadband or ethernet product and do not use any traditional voice services, you won’t see any changes as you’re already using new digital technology.

Will anything else be impacted?

It’s not just traditional telephony that sits on PSTN lines; other devices such as alarm lines, payment terminals, fax machines, and security cameras also utilise the network to transfer data. If you own any of these devices, you’ll need to find out whether they are IP-compatible from the manufacturer. Openreach can also provide line test facilities. If they aren’t IP-compatible, these devices will need to be replaced. Otherwise, they can be moved onto a single order product. Or if you’re looking to go wireless, there’s the option of connecting these devices over IoT (Internet of Things) networks via intelligent mobile data.

What do I do if I’ve got an ISDN line?

If you have an ISDN line, you’ll need to consider new options for your business telephone communications such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as the ISDN phase out happens. Telephone services no longer have to rely on the degrading copper infrastructure. With VoIP, your data transmits over the internet. However, for your new VoIP system to work, you’ll need a good quality internet connection so the solution can run seamlessly.

When will Openreach start withdrawing services?

Openreach has already started trialling the withdrawal of services in exchanges, the first being in its Salisbury exchange, Wiltshire, and the second being the Mildenhall exchange, Bury St. Edmunds. Other exchanges are not due to enter withdrawal until much closer to January 2027.


Important Dates

What happens in 2023?

From September 2023, Openreach issued a full ‘stop sell’ of new supply meaning there will be no new line installation for Single PSTN lines or ISDN. Customers who already have the affected Openreach products will be able to continue using them until the switch off. Consumer rights during this period will still be upheld so line transfers will be accepted providing there is no change to the installation when the line moves from one provider to another.

What happens in 2027?

Your provider will strive to migrate all PSTN services to alternative solutions before the January 2027 deadline. However, if any of your services remain on the PSTN network, then they will be withdrawn. Any businesses or consumers that fail to switch to alternative telephony will ultimately be left without service.