A big change is coming to the UK's communication infrastructure. In 2025, the landline network that has served the country since the earliest days of the telephone is finally set to retire, and with it, many older phone systems will cease to function.
The network being switched off is called the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN, and consists of the copper-based infrastructure that has long carried voice calls throughout the UK. This will also see the retirement of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) network of legacy internet technology, which relies on the same system.
If you still rely on these services for your small business phone or internet system, you'll need to migrate to newer technology. But while 2025 is still a few years away, this doesn't mean you can afford to wait.
What is the stop sell and what does it mean for you?
Before the final switch-off in 2025, there will be a series of 'stop sell' dates throughout the country. This signifies when Openreach, the operator of the UK's main telephone network, will no longer provide new lines that use this technology.
This means that if you are looking to sign up for a cheap phone service that uses legacy landlines, you'll no longer be able to do so after these dates. For example, if you're moving to new premises within one of the affected areas after the stop sell, or want to add a second line to support a growing business, you'll have to consider alternatives.
However, it doesn't mean any existing products you have will stop working immediately. Those services will still be available until the 2025 switch-off date, but you won't be able to add any newlines or other extras.
When is the switch-off happening?
The stop sell programme has already begun. Openreach started initial trials at single locations back in 2020, and last year, the first major 'tranche' of exchanges were added to the list.
However, the project is set to seriously ramp up from 2022 onwards. Hundreds more exchanges are no longer set to accept new copper-based phone or internet services over the next couple of years, before being extended to every part of the country from September 2023.
If you're wondering when your local area will be impacted by this, BT maintains a list of exchanges set to be effected prior to the nationwide stop sell deadline in 2023.
Why do you need to act now?
Even if you're not expecting to add any new landline services in the coming years, you'll still need to look at migrating your communications away from this technology in plenty of time before the 2025 switch-off.
The later you leave it, the more likely you are to find yourself in a rush to beat the deadline, which could mean you end up with an unsuitable or overpriced service because you haven't got time to fully research what's on offer.
However, by acting early, you can easily find a cheap VoIP phone system that is fit for the future and meets the needs of your growing business.