The end is nigh for PSTN.

Peter Clarke
On: 19 Jul 2018
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The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be made redundant sooner rather than later. If your business still uses PSTN, should you sit back and wait for the inevitable or should you begin preparations now?

The technology that the landline telephone network relies on is around a hundred years old. Not surprisingly, much of the hardware involved is reaching the end of its useful working life, and so are the engineers with the knowledge and experience to keep it running. These factors, together with the growth in demand for broadband fuelled by the digital revolution, are making it impossible for old-fashioned copper wire to keep up with users’ communications demands.

It’s impossible for old-fashioned copper wire to keep up with users’ communications  demands.

Already in the UK, national telecoms operator BT has announced its PSTN will be retired by 2025 and all customers will be transferred to VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), which uses an internet connection for all communications.

In the Republic, a definite switch-over date has yet to be announced, partly due to the lack of comprehensive high quality broadband coverage to take the place of the copper wire connections. However, it’s only a matter of time before the Irish PSTN network goes the same way as the UK’s.

A change for the better.

In any area of business, the fact that change has inherent risks can be enough to persuade people to put it off for as long as possible. In the case of the PSTN switch-off, the timing is out of our hands. It’s not “if” but “when”, and it will happen when it happens whether every business is ready or not. You do, though, have the option to take pre-emptive action.

If you wait until PSTN is cut off, your switch to VoIP will be all-or-nothing. You’ll have no choice but to migrate all your communications at once, and if there’s a hitch with your switch you won’t have a fall-back position. Alternatively, start to switch now and you can migrate your communications gradually, ironing out any problems as you go, and always with the fail-safe of a still-operational PSTN if required.

Yet surely there are better reasons for migrating to VoIP than simply avoiding problems? There are – and they include making your business more efficient and more productive.

Spoilt for choice.

Even though the PSTN cut-off date has yet to be announced, there are already VoIP solutions available, offering functionality that enhances business communications. If you are at all concerned about making the change, there’s no need to go full-on and adopt every possible function at once. A simple start with basic call handling may be your best option.

Without changing any of your existing phone numbers, moving to cloud-based telephony as a first step will enable your workforce to communicate seamlessly, whether they’re using their desk phone, mobile, tablet, laptop or PC. Once they’ve got used to seamless connectivity and increased efficiency, you can add on other functions to help make them even more productive. For example, you can establish Call Flows, so that unanswered calls automatically go to the users and devices you choose. Hunt Groups will enable multiple users’ devices to ring simultaneously or sequentially when one number is called. Calls can be diverted from landlines to mobiles, or routed to different extensions or devices depending on the time of day.

The only difference your customers will notice is a higher level of service through greater employee availability. Meanwhile employees will discover how VoIP can make it easier for them to do their jobs more efficiently.

The days of PSTN are numbered. If your business prepares now and makes its own changeover at its own pace, you’ll not only experience fewer hiccups when the big switch-off happens, but you can also start to reap the benefits of VoIP over PSTN, ASAP.

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