The discontinuation of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in the UK, scheduled for 2025, is causing concern for many businesses reliant on the ageing network. With the cessation of PSTN, these businesses urgently need to migrate to digital communication services.
Despite a stop-sell date of September 2023, after which no new orders for PSTN services or significant changes to existing services can be made, the necessary transition away from the PSTN network is not happening quickly enough, according to experts.
This lack of movement is prompting calls from UK councils for more support for the shift to digital telephone systems. James Smith, Head of Pre Sales at M247, offers businesses recommendations to mitigate challenges in transitioning to the new digital communication infrastructure.
M247's research found that 54% of businesses are not fully informed about the pending PSTN switch-off. Alarmingly, 88% of UK businesses still operate analogue services on the PSTN network.
Services like alarm systems and legacy voice systems that rely on PSTN lines are significant reasons for this hesitancy. Smith emphasises that these businesses must be proactive or they risk severe disruption with the enforced switch-off.
He suggests that businesses should view this switch-off as an opportunity to tackle broader digital transformation strategies. According to the data, 63% of businesses who have already migrated away from the PSTN network did so as part of their wider digital transformation strategy.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) supports this, stating that small UK businesses are embracing digital transformation at a faster pace than ever before.
Moreover, businesses that have moved away from the PSTN network are reaping digital benefits, according to M247's research. About 54% of survey respondents experienced improved flexibility, and 42% reported enhanced technical capabilities, like call recording and transcription, after leaving the PSTN network.
However, to fully utilise these digital facilities, businesses must ensure that their IT hardware, such as handsets and devices, are up-to-date and compatible with newer 'softphone' capabilities.
Ensuring a smooth transition to the new digital infrastructure also includes enlisting the help of dedicated service providers. These providers not only offer a range of internet connectivity options, like Single Order Generic Ethernet Access (SoGEA) or Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) broadband connections, but can also guide businesses through the migration process. Specialists can also train the workforce, ensuring maximum efficiency with the new digital solutions.
Smith suggests that by teaming up with the right technology partner, even small businesses can effectively future-proof their IT infrastructure, ensure business continuity, and deliver seamless experiences for their customers and employees.