A majority (88%) of UK businesses are still reliant on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for essential services, such as analogue phone lines, broadband, alarm systems, and CCTV cameras.
This is despite the imminent PSTN stop-sell (September 2023), which will see the sale of all new PSTN-related products halted immediately, followed by a full deactivation of the network by 31st December 2025.
The findings are from a new survey commissioned by cloud and connectivity provider M247, which explores the current state of PSTN usage among UK businesses.
The PSTN is a network of copper wires that has kept the UK connected since the 1800s. Its owner, Openreach, will be switching the network off in December 2025 due to increasing difficulties associated with maintaining the now-aged infrastructure, as well as evolving communication styles and habits. The switch-off will have a huge impact on UK businesses, preventing any further usage of analogue phone lines and older broadband connections, as well as services such as lift lines, EPOS systems, and CCTV cameras, which may come as a surprise to business owners unaware these services use PSTN lines.
PSTN stop-sell quickly approaching
M247 surveyed 500 UK-based IT decision-makers and found that awareness of the switch-off is high – 77 per cent of respondents are aware it is happening by 2025. However, a stop-sell is scheduled for September this year, which means businesses will be unable to place any new orders for PSTN services or make significant changes to existing services. Despite awareness of the PSTN stop-sell being equally high (76%) - the vast majority have yet to take any action. Just over a quarter (29%) of businesses list the PSTN switch-off as a top priority – trailing behind issues such as growing cybersecurity threats (50%) and investment in cloud migration (47%).
Of the businesses using the PSTN, a third (33%) have over 100 devices connected, with over half (51%) saying they would experience significant disruption if the network was switched off before they had migrated. 80 per cent of respondents believe migration from PSTN services would take up to six months to complete and 23 per cent believe the disruption caused by the switch-off would lead to a loss of business. This makes the fact that so many businesses are yet to make the switch ever more alarming.
Liz Hawke, Product Manager UC&C at M247 said, “the UK’s PSTN switch-off will mark a historic change for business communications and a major leap forward in the country’s adoption of digital technologies. However, despite widespread awareness of the fast-approaching switch-off, and the final stop-sell which is a matter of months away, an overwhelming majority of UK businesses have failed to act when it comes to migrating away from the network.
“It’s important for businesses to act sooner, rather than later, and adopt the right IP technology for their needs to avoid serious consequences and disruption in months to come. Having access to the latest connectivity and voice services has become increasingly important for businesses that want to remain competitive in today’s digital age. Hybrid work environments have meant that employees now require more secure and seamless ways of working, and customers today expect the highest level of customer service, delivered over multiple channels. Time is ticking for UK businesses and the bottom line is simple. Migrating away from PSTN is an important step in the digital transformation process for businesses, and those that don’t act soon risk being left behind.”