PSTN and ISTN Switch off

What is the PSTN Switch Off?

The UK’s copper network is being switched off and this includes your telephone network (PSTN and ISDN). 

The majority of the UK's copper telephone network is approaching its end of life due to technology expanding and these lines retiring.

Any technology using a copper cable to communicate will be affected. The bulk of what will be affected will be analog phone systems using PSTN or ISDN, as well as some CCTV, alarm systems, telecare devices, fax, and even some lift services will be affected as they use this service.

The copper cables that are being used for these services are buried deep beneath the ground and are slowly deteriorating,  therefore they are becoming too expensive and impractical to be maintained by Openreach.

However, many of us as well as many companies use these analog telephone services which rely on these copper lines, so what will happen when they are turned off?

We want to help you and your organisation be prepared for all of the upcoming changes so that we can advise and support you with the next steps.

How does the Copper line work?

The telephone handsets, ax machines in your office are connected to your private branch exchange (PBX) via wall sockets.

Copper cables are then run from your premises to the local exchange, and then from there, these calls are routed onto their final destination using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).  These PSTN lines can also run on the same line as FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet). 

What does this mean?

If you’re using PSTN or ISDN technology in any capacity, you will be affected. As of September 2023, you will no longer be able to purchase ISDN lines and from December 2025 any legacy technology using ISDN will no longer work.

This means that internet-based services are taking over! IP technology or VoIP (voice-over internet provider) will replace these old copper network systems. The current system in place provides your voice phone services with connectivity layered over-the-top using the same line. This also consequently means that FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) will also be made redundant. These PSTN lines require a very complex and costly network of physical lines that take a lot of maintenance. By enrolling a full IP service, it will mean that it will only need the internet to function,so this removes all environmental issues which are affecting copper lines, such as failures and road maintenance blocks.

Trials and Timeline?

So when will this transition from copper to VoIP take place?

It has already started!

Trials have been taking place all across the UK from Salisbury, Wiltshire and Suffolk

These areas were shut off in December 2022 and so the PSTN and ADSL lines have been made redundant in these counties.

The Suffolk trial is currently taking place in the area of Mildenhall, where fibre broadband is not currently available.  This means that they are putting in the copper alternative of SoGEA which is a data-only broadband service. SoGEA is a service that is likely to be cheaper than a standard telephone line and broadband package. It is also shown to be faster to install and easier to support from a maintenance point of view. 

After the trials, the next step will be the official "Stop Sell" announcement planned for September 2023.

After this date, no new orders for these services will be available or be allowed to be accepted.

The final date is the 31st of December 2025 when all WLR and PSTN services will be switched off. 

What service should you choose next? 

If you’re using PSTN or ISDN technology in any capacity, you will be affected. Regardless if your business has 1 or 10,00 employees, if you’re currently using PSTN or ISDN technology then the switch off is important to you. As of 2023, you will no longer be able to purchase ISDN lines and from 2025 any legacy technology using ISDN will no longer work.

How can we help? 

We like to help all of our customers to be prepared before we go through this transition and have all the information they need.

We can help guide you towards the right decision for your or your company.

If you have any further questions or would like to talk to a specialist about this further then please get in touch and we can produce a site audit and plan for when 2025 approaches.