BT Group’s recent announcement was widely predicted by many in the telecoms industry – the PSTN switch off has been delayed by 13 months to January 2027 – it won’t happen at the end of next year.

Quick recap

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is the analogue fixed line telephone network we’ve all used pretty much since telephones were invented.  Across the globe analogue phone networks are being switched off as equipment in exchanges reaches the end of its life as are the engineers who maintained it!  Replacing the analogue network is a digital service called Voice Over IP (VoIP) which basically sends voice calls over broadband – your telephones will be plugged into your broadband router.  VoIP offers significant business benefits but also some disadvantages which we’ll come to.

Why the delay?

BT need additional time to better protect vulnerable customers and those with additional needs.  The router, upon which VoIP depends, won’t work in the event of a power cut.  Therefore VoIP cannot be used to make an 999 call during a power cut unless the router is connected to an emergency backup battery.  Earlier this year two elderly people tragically died as their emergency call pendants failed to work over VoIP.

There is a second problem which needs addressing.  Some rural areas are still not covered by the fast and reliable broadband service which VoIP requires.  Fibre broadband needs to be rolled out to all rural areas if VoIP is to replace the PSTN.

Do I need to act now?

Absolutely!  All businesses, irrespective of size, need to move to VoIP without delay for these reasons:

  • You might not have as much time as you think. The January 2027 deadline is simply the date by which the whole country should have migrated to VoIP; BT/Openreach will continue its rolling programme to switch off local telephone exchanges.  Some areas of Essex, Witham for example, have already migrated to VoIP
  • The PSTN isn’t what it used to be and could let you down. Faults are taking longer to fix and according to Ofcom’s 2023 Connected Nations UK report (connected-nations-2023-uk.pdf ( the number of PSTN incidents increased by 20% in 2023 and over the same period there was a 60% increase in hours lost for customers still relying on the PSTN
  • VoIP can deliver increased business flexibility and productivity, potentially lower your costs whilst enhancing the customer experience you offer which might improve your sales. Rather than rush, take the time to match VoIP benefits to your objectives
  • As the deadline approaches the upgraded hardware you could need will most likely be difficult to source. In addition, we anticipate our engineering team will be flat out so book them now whilst they have availability

What’s your next step?

That’s an easy answer – talk to us!  After carefully considering your present and future needs we will propose a number of options.  We’re independent, you are assured of the best advice and support.