The Big Switch Off is happening very soon. It’s set to be the most poignant change within the UK’s communication system. Remember landlines? Well whether you still use a landline on a daily basis or haven’t touched one since 2010, it’s time to say your goodbyes as BT is conducting The Big Switch Off in 2025.
By the cut-off date in December 2025, traditional copper phone wires will become obsolete as BT Openreach is withdrawing this outdated infrastructure and replacing them with digitalized and internet-based methods of communication. This means that homes and businesses that are still using traditional copper telephone wiring to access broadband or landlines will need to switch to an alternative solution.
But how to expand your small business? How can you be fully prepared for the Big Switch Off and how can you make sure your business is ready? Here’s what you need to know
What on Earth is the Big Switch Off?
We’re all familiar with traditional landlines, well at least those of us who were born before 2005. Landlines and the copper wiring that enables them to work have been in use for over 100 years. However, several years ago, BT announced that they will be withdrawing their old services and replacing them with digital-based alternatives. This means that the old copper wiring used in order to operate traditional landline phones and internet services will be shut off.
Although 2025 seems years away, many businesses are making efforts to prepare for the inevitable switch off of services. In 2023, sales of traditional services will be phased out and retailers will be unable to sell PTSN and IDSN based products to customers.
This means that those who use landline phones, or copper wiring to access broadband will need to find suitable alternatives in preparation for the Big Switch Off.
The Big Switch Off, also known as WLR Withdrawal will greatly affect unprepared businesses. Potentially two-thirds of traditional phone lines will lose connection without a replacement put in place. This is why as a small business, it’s important to ensure that you are prepared so that operations are not disrupted.
As a Small Business, How Will You be Affected?
If your small business relies on traditional PTSN and IDSN lines, then you will need to switch to an appropriate alternative.
PSTN refers to the Public Switched Telephone Network and is the system that has been in use since the 1800s and allows users to make landline calls via a telephone. IDSN stands for Integrated Digital Services Network. This is a set of communication tools that use digital transmissions to make phone calls, video calls, or transmit data over the circuits of traditional PSTN services. Remember dial-up internet? Well, that was facilitated by PSTN.
Whether your business uses telephone lines to make calls to customers or to access broadband connection, you will need to future-proof your business communication and connectivity to prevent any disruption.
What Alternatives Are There For My Business?
There are different alternative options for what will replace your current phone line or broadband, such as;
- 4G & 5G: Advancements of 4G and 5G networks are currently happening across the UK. you could access the internet via your mobile device by utilizing your mobile connection. However, the range of the signal can vary between locations and is not always reliable depending on requirements.
- VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) runs users to make mobile calls over the internet. Because faster broadband connections are becoming more widely available VoIP services have proven to be generally more affordable and accessible, particularly for those with remote workforces.
- SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) can be used to send and receive any media-based data such as video calls or photos.
- SoGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access) enables you to gain internet access through a broadband connection without needing a phone line.
- Cloud Voice can be used as an alternative to PTSN and IDSN lines. Cloud Voice provides users with high-quality calls that often perform better than traditional networks. It also provides more secure technology as well as extra features and more accessible functions.
How Can You Prepare Your Business For The Big Switch Off?
Researching different forms of alternative phone and broadband services is a good way to start preparing for the Big Switch Off. Depending on the location of your business premises, you may not be able to access certain types of broadband due to fiber-optic cables currently not covering the UK fully yet, so it’s best to check the availability of services in your local area.
If you run or own a small business, then the first thing you need to do is decide which alternative internet, signal booster, or phone service you will need. Depending on the requirements of your business services, you will need to ensure that the alternative you switch to is appropriate for your needs. For example, if you only use a phone service to take a few calls a week, then you will probably need a different service compared to a larger customer service center that requires multiple call capabilities.
You should also consider whether or not you will need to replace certain types of equipment such as desk phones or handsets. If your current equipment isn’t prepared for alternative digital software or trending technology. Then it may not be compatible with VoIP or SIP services. It’s best to check your current equipment to ensure that they can handle the switch to digital services, before the WLR withdrawal so that you have time to replace them and you can avoid potential disruption.
If your business uses a larger-scale phone network system, then you may want to consider other options. Instead of replacing desk-phones, you could integrate phone systems with already existing computers. VoIP and Cloud Voice services can be used through computers, as well as certain phones, provided you have an adequate internet connection.
The key is to be prepared, start researching different options and what you use your broadband and phone for. Having a re-think and change up how your business communications can benefit you in many ways, you could even find more affordable and functional options for your business needs.