Alright, so we might be being a tiny but overdramatic, but our message is sincere. Did you know that at the old-fashioned and outdated copper cabling system known as ISDN is being phased out, with a gradual obsoletion plan in place and a big 2025 switch off? Thought not! Despite plenty of coverage in the news, it seems that only those in our trade have any real awareness that this is happening and many businesses have no clue what it actually means for them.

Let’s drop the jargon…

In simple terms, BT Openreach is getting rid of the copper cables that historically made phone lines work. They’re doing it because the technology is out of date, difficult to fix, and doesn’t support many of the new technological advances. Basically, it has had its day. This means that the traditional method of making telephone calls is on the way out, and the future will be an IP-based model where calls are made via fibre internet lines.

At the moment, if you are on the traditional platform, you will own several ‘lines’ which all have the same phone number. This means your customers don’t get an engaged tone because all the calls are trying to come down one line.

For the person using the phone, nothing much will seem to change – you can still have a phone handset, dial a number, and make or answer a call, but from a set-up and technology perspective, the changes will be vast.

Here’s what will happen:

If you don’t upgrade your phone system, it will literally just stop working. While the hardware – your telephone handsets – may look very similar on both systems, the old version relies on copper wiring that just won’t be there any more. That means no more phone calls if you haven’t upgraded. It’s not quite that dramatic as BT will force migration off the platform between April and December 2025, but waiting until they make you will give you a lot less time to consider your next move, and the potential of a lot more problems than you need to face.

2025 seems a long way off, but it’s a downhill slope rather than a cliff edge. Between now and then, different parts of the system will be phased out, repairs will take longer and longer if they happen at all, and you won’t be able to add more phone lines as your business expands, even if you need to. So while it feels like you have three and a half years to do something about it, you really don’t! If you’re in a fixed term contract and you really, really can’t move off the ISDN platform yet, then get planning now for what you can do. If you’re planning to grow, buy extra lines while you can. If you plan on changing numbers, then you need to get call diverts set up now, before you can’t do it anymore. Basically, all the flexibility you might need in your phone lines will disappear, so it might be cheaper in the long-run to pay the early cancellation fee on your contract and upgrade to the new system! Imagine if we went into lockdown again and you couldn’t divert your numbers anywhere but the office?

Don’t forget your broadband…

Although it is now far less common, if you’re still on a copper-based, analogue broadband line, then this will be out too! If you’re already on fibre or internet, then you have nothing to worry about, but if it’s a copper based line, then it will be coming out. Double-check your set-up to make sure you don’t need to switch your internet too!

We’re not exaggerating…

Millions of businesses are still on the PSTN or ISDN network which are being phased out. When Openreach first started announcing the changes, many ignored the implications because 2025 was so far away. Now, as it creeps closer and closer, the deadline becomes more pressing. Don’t forget, any switch you make won’t be instantaneous, and you’ll have to spend time dealing with old contracts and new contracts, ordering hardware, planning networks and installations and getting it ‘right’. This process could take weeks or even months depending on the complexity of your system, so please, please, please don’t leave it until the last minute!

It’s not all doom and gloom…

While we’ve given you our direst warnings, there’s also huge merit in looking at this with a positive spin too. Embracing the new fibre-based technology paves the way for softphone systems so your team can work from anywhere, integrated video conferencing for all those Zoom and Teams calls, and so, so much more!

Speak to our team on 01453 700 800 for advice on how to make the switch, as well as a free telecoms and IT audit to look at the potential impact on your business.