National telecoms provider BT has announced they will shut off their ISDN and PSTN services.
The move brings to an end the use of analogue phone lines and moves communications technology into an entirely online space.
BT will no longer offer businesses the ability to acquire ISDN and PSTN after 2020, with the total switch off occurring in 2025.
The move comes as part of cost-saving efforts by BT.
Over 2 million UK businesses will be affected by the switch off. Primarily, these will be small companies. The biggest impact will be felt by those with heavy use of fax machines or landline telephones.
Businesses will need to look for alternative methods of data transmission to maintain communication coverage.
BT is pushing customers towards its VoIP solutions, enabling them to keep their old technology that currently operates over ISDN and PSTN.
eFax suggests that instead of just updating transmission methods to VoIP, businesses should consider improving their entire system by ditching legacy fax machine technology and moving to cloud faxing solutions.
By removing fax machines, rather than maintaining their old systems on new data transmission networks, businesses can take advantage of upgraded technology for enhanced growth and development.
ISDN, or Integrated Service Digital Network, is the first iteration of high-speed internet. It was the evolution of dial-up, yet had similarities to its predecessor in that it utilised hard-wire phone line connections to enable communication. ISDN first appeared in the 90s and revolutionised internet connectivity. Many credit the technology as being the ground-work for modern, faster internet solutions. The service enables businesses to send data, such as voice calls or images, through their phone lines using the internet.
The Public Switch Phone Network, abbreviated to PSTN, is what you might refer to as the classic analogue telephone system — the system that enables landline connectivity.
This centuries-old technology was introduced during the 1800s and allows for information to be transmitted through a network of copper wires. Businesses have been using PSTN as their primary method of transmitting phone calls and fax documentation for many years. For millions of operations, PSTN is the foundation of communication.
The BT 2025 switch off was announced last year. The national provider of telecommunications stated that they would no longer be providing the service to businesses in the UK. BT plans to switch off all functionality for analogue phone lines, which means they will cease to operate. Following the announcement, BT also stated they would no longer sell ISDN or PSTN services after 2020 in preparation for the move.
After the switch off, there will be no maintenance or recovery of phone lines, and any data sent will no longer be carried through ISDN and PSTNs. You could opt to switch to another supplier to maintain your current system, but with BT being the largest provider, we will likely see others follow their example soon.
For businesses currently using ISDN and PSTN systems, the idea of the BT 2025 switch off might be a bit frustrating. Given that the company is offering you opportunities to maintain your systems, they are effectively forcing you into a change.
The current copper wire system has seen adaptations and improvements since its inception in the 1800s, however, it is still effectively a service that relies on technology devised centuries ago. The result for BT is the costs of maintaining the system are incredibly high and rising. This also means prices go up for the end-user. ISDN and PSTN services are simply not optimised for modern business. There are plenty of other methods of data transmission available that are cheaper, faster and more reliable.
It is the combination of factors at play here that has led to the BT 2025 switch off. The company wants to move businesses over to its more cost-effective products.
The BT 2025 switch-off will impact all businesses currently operating ISDN or PSTN.
The switch-off will affect a large volume of small businesses, as these organisations are less reliant on more advanced and diverse communication platforms than larger companies, meaning they haven’t needed to upgrade their systems.
42% of SMEs still use analogue lines to transmit data. That’s around 2.4 million businesses. And, while many bigger companies and national brands have already updated their data transmission systems, not all have made the switch. Roughly 33% of larger firms still operate on ISDN or PSTN. Essentially, there are still a lot of British companies reliant on fixed landlines for communication.
If you send data through landline systems, then the BT 2025 switch off will likely have consequences for your business.
How much of an impact the BT 2025 switch off will have on your business all depends on how wide-spread your use of ISDN or PSTN technology is, and what kind of hardware you are using. When it comes to switching internet services, there isn’t much of a challenge. If you are using ISDN, upgrading to options like fibre-optic connections is simply a matter of changing your service provider package.
The bigger impacts come when considering other methods of communication, primarily voice calling and faxing. Unless you plan on ditching fax machines and landlines altogether, these platforms need particular means of support to send and receive information. You can’t just plug your fax machine into your computer and send a fax through the internet.
When it comes to adapting business technology following the BT 2025, the big push is towards VoIP.
VoIP — or Voice Over Internet Protocol — is a method of data transmission that allows for voice messages and images to be sent over the internet using your current hardware. But how? Didn’t we just say you can’t plug your fax machine into your computer and expect it to work?
Traditionally, information from fax machines and telephones travelled down a hardline to your copper-wire landline. Data then transmitted — via ISDN or PSTN — through this wire. With the wire no longer operational following the BT 2025 switch off, the data must go elsewhere. How VoIP works for your phones and fax machines is simple. Using an adaptor device, you can turn your landline-reliant fax machines and phones into hardware with internet connectivity.
Instead of plugging into your fixed landline, the hardline cable of your fax machines and telephones runs through the adaptor. The adaptor converts the data into a format readable by VoIP. Your VoIP data then transmits through your internet connection, whichever platform that is. Because VoIP is a technology compatible with other hardline machines, your recipient’s devices are still able to decipher and disseminate the data, even if they still use older systems.
In essence, VoIP means you can use your current hardline devices to send information to other hardline devices, but through the internet. The result is minimal change to your systems while maintaining communication coverage, even after the BT 2025 switch off.
If you are a business at risk of upset due to the BT 2025 switch off, then VoIP may be a tempting option. With only a few simple tweaks, you can carry on using all the same hardware you use today. So why not make the switch to VoIP? The problem is while VoIP provides a solution to the loss of the archaic method of data transmission that is ISDN and PSTN, it does not offer a solution to the out-dated technology you are using to send said data.
Like the copper-wire landline, the fax machine is hundreds of years old. It is legacy technology that comes complete with a series of disadvantages not fit for purpose in the modern era. From major security flaws to excessive costs, the fax machine is just as out-dated as the landline it needs to operate on, and its removal is just as necessary.
However, you can’t just get rid of faxing. Many businesses still need to use it.
Billions of fax documents are still transmitted globally each year. Despite being technology first conceived during the Victorian Era, the fax still has immense value to commercial communication. Businesses rely on fax for everything from international document sharing to submission of legally binding contracts. Fax is a deeply entrenched and essential practice.
This does not mean you must maintain old-fashioned technology.
eFax provides businesses with an alternative solution. Our digital fax services bring fax transmission into the 21st-century. With our solutions, you can send and receive fax online using your computer, tablet or smartphone. eFax is compatible with legacy hardware, too, which means even if you upgrade and your customers, partners or clients don’t, you can still maintain complete communication coverage. What’s more, digital faxing provides businesses with a range of advantages fax machines simply cannot offer, including enhanced data security, increased document accessibility, flexible usage, lower running costs and powerful improvements to reliability.
With the BT 2025 switch off looming, businesses will be considering making changes to their data transmission systems to avoid potential disruption. While VoIP may appear to be the easiest solution, it does not offer you the best opportunities. During this period of transition from legacy systems to newer services, why not take advantage of the ultimate in fax sending solutions, instead of continuing to rely on hardware just as dated as the technology removed in the first place?