The difference between PSTN and VoIP: Prepare for the 2027 PSTN Switch off

Author: Sonia Older  |   Date published: May 22, 2024, UK  |   Read est: 5 min read

Make way for a full-fibre future, the PSTN switch off is coming!

The withdrawal of traditional copper-based telephone services has long been a hot topic in the communications business but is now gathering real pace. Openreach is busy preparing exchanges across the UK and full fibre connections will soon enable consistent, faster and more reliable connectivity for everyone.

So, what does the PSTN switch off mean for your business and how can you take advantage of its benefits sooner rather than later?

Engineer fixing roadside green cabinet

First and foremost, what exactly is the PSTN switch off?

In a nutshell, the old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is on its way out and the PSTN switch off is imminent. Made from copper, the PSTN has become fragile, served its purpose and is now making way for a much more resilient replacement...fibre.

All traditional PSTN lines, such as analogue or digital phone lines, ISDN phone systems used by businesses, and older internet connections, such as ADSL and FTTC broadband, will all become obsolete.

Openreach have been busy laying fibre is on track to replace every copper connection across the UK by 2027. However, a rollout of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight, so the withdrawal of copper services and migration to full fibre will begin much sooner in many exchange areas. Already in some exchange locations it isn’t possible to buy copper based PSTN services.

So, it’s time to make sure your business is prepared. But fear not, it’s an exciting time and the benefits are huge!

So, what’s the difference between PSTN and VoIP?

PSTN will soon be relegated to the telecom’s history books. It is a basic service which uses the circuit-switched copper phone lines to transmit analogue voice data. Used for decades in homes and small businesses, a PSTN phone number is equivalent to one line and can’t be used for anything else whilst a call is being made.

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network – allows the digital transmission of voice, video and data over the traditional PSTN phone lines. Put simply, it allows you to make phone calls and access the internet using the same port but the departure from the PSTN will also mean an ISDN switch off.

So, what are the alternatives to ISDN? Going forward, all business phone calls will be made over the internet using IP based solutions such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and SIP Trunking (Session Initiation Protocol) technology.

The difference between PSTN and VoIP is that due to rise of these fast fibre internet connections, this has enabled cheaper, more reliable and flexible communication over the internet, which ultimately led to the demise of expensive and high maintenance copper-based services.

The all-important benefits of VoIP for your business

VoIP telephony offers a more productive and cost-effective future for your business communications, one that is flexible, reliable, easy to maintain and scalable – meaning it can grow and adapt together with your business.

VoIP phone systems offer increased mobility, which is more important than ever before in a world of hybrid working between the office and home, or across multiple business locations. Providing you have internet connectivity, VoIP solutions can allow you to connect your business, your team and your customers, anytime, from any device and from anywhere.

The list of benefits goes on…

  • Scalable - You can scale up your VoIP phone system and add more employees as your business grows.
  • Flexibility - The same phone number, whether you’re in the office or working remotely.
  • Cost effective - A VoIP solution offers a higher quality service, at a lower price than more traditional services.
  • Fast and robust - Coupled with superfast internet capabilities, VoIP is reliable with most issues quickly and easily resolved remotely.
  • Call management features - A wealth of features including voicemail, hold music and auto attendant.
  • Collaborative communications - Call management across your team together with the potential to integrate email, browsers and instant messaging.
  • Business continuity - To ensure your business and communication with your customers is protected against unexpected events.

Related content

> ISDN switch off

> Impact of the PSTN switch off

> PSTN vs digital technology

Time to make the switch to full fibre

Openreach hit its first major target in March 2021, making full fibre broadband available to 4.5 million premises and more than 170 city locations across the UK, despite the challenges of the last 12 months.

As exchange areas hit 75% completion for fibre services, “stop-sell” notices are issued on copper-based services and two years after this point the services will be withdrawn. Businesses need to sign up to fibre-based products ahead of this withdrawal process, to ensure continuity of service across both phone lines and the internet.

So why wait when you can take full advantage of the benefits of VoIP services now? Look at what services you need to migrate, avoid a last-minute panic or potentially long-lead times and order in plenty of time to ensure continuity of service.

Now is the time to talk to someone who can help your business with the PSTN switch off. The team at Focus Group are here to help you make the switch and discuss all the options available. And naturally we’ll guide you through all you need to know to ensure a seamless transition to an all-IP future.

Sonia Older photo

Sonia Older
Brand & Campaign Manager

Sonia Older is the Campaign Manager at Focus Group and a highly experienced copywriter. She boasts over 20 years of experience in content marketing and PR across multiple industries, and is the key driver of content and PR for Focus Group across all UK offices. Away from work, Sonia usually swaps keyboard strokes for ski slopes in the Alps with her family.

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, exclusive offers and top tips on tech