The Big Switch: What the changeover means for SME’s
Businesses now have only two years to prepare for one of the biggest technological changes facing the UK as the Government and telecoms industry turns off the country’s analogue telephone system in 2025.
In a move which industry experts have termed ‘the Big Switch’ analogue phone systems will stop working from that date as the UK moves to new SOGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access) lines and full fibre solutions.
It means that the current analogue (PSTN – Public Switch Telephone Network) and ISDN lines will stop working.
Providers such as TelephoneSystems.Cloud have warned that many SMEs are still not prepared for the switch and more should be done to educate them on the need to abandon legacy systems.
Currently users can make voice telephone calls on the same line as broadband but this will be phased out and lines will become broadband only with no voice provision.
Juliet Moran of VoIP phone experts TelephoneSystems.Cloud said she had been shocked to discover how broken the old system is.
She said: “The Big Switch in 2025 in the telecoms industry means a larger change for some than usual, as the UK tries to ditch the old legacy systems, some of which appear to have been around since the dark ages.
“It was rather a shock when we started offering our cloud phone system service to discover how broken the old systems are as we moved people from their legacy platforms, and how legacy the whole telecoms industry is.
“The Big Switch means all businesses in the UK from the smallest to the largest will need to have transitioned from ADSL & FTTC to SOGEA.
“We find that most businesses we first encounter run ASDL or Fibre providing both a telephone connection and internet access. SOGEA uses the current cables you have but will no longer carry voice services.
“The good news in that you can stop paying for voice services that you probably don’t need or want and if you have already migrated to a cloud phone system, you should start to make a small saving.”
She added that making the switch was much easier than many businesses fear and said more should be done to reassure business owners.
She continued: “The switchover is seamless. I upgraded my home fibre line to SOGEA recently, and my partner didn’t even notice while working from home. The only thing that stopped was the spam calls on our landline.
“If the line is still used as a telephone it’s simple to port the number to a cloud service, have it redirected to a mobile, or simply ditch it all together.
“If you haven’t transitioned your phones however, there is much more work to be done and your choice depends on what you need.
“If you have ISDN lines, then you will either want to transition your current box in the cupboard (PBX) to run SIP, or ditch the legacy equipment altogether and run a VoIP phone system.
“If you have PSTN lines, then you have a choice – go Cloud or you can just add a VoIP service to your router, this will allow you to plug your existing phone into your router instead of the phone socket and still be able to make and receive calls on your business number.
“The huge advantage to using the opportunity to move to a cloud system is that you no longer have to pay maintenance on the system or worry about it failing, it no longer becomes your problem.
“It also gives you more flexibility, by changing users up or down each month or to work from home, café or beach, as these days it’s hard to make plans for anything.
“With a VoIP phone system, you can automatically be in a place to adapt to change, whatever the world throws at your business. New member of staff and need a new telephone number? Sure. Staff been reduced and you need fewer phone lines – no problem. These systems work on 4G too making it flexible to almost all environments.
“One of big challenges that businesses hit when transitioning to IP based voice is that they discover they already had hidden issues with their network. Packet loss and faulty hardware on a network can lead to all kinds of crazy issues and behaviours with IP phones that can leave many scratching their heads.
“Now’s the time to review these networks, which for many businesses haven’t been looked at since they moved into their current building. Many have legacy 10/100 speed switches running under a desk somewhere, so it’s a good opportunity to look at upgrading those to gigabit switches, as we are all using a lot more internet traffic than we did 10 years ago.
“A little internal audit of the network can go a long way to helping with packet loss, and can also usually assist with a security review while you are at it, especially when reviewing the router and firewall and Wi-Fi protocols.
“The Big Switch has the opportunity to significantly improve all our business flexibility and allow SME’s to be able to respond faster to a changing world, while saving money. As now long term contracts, hidden fees and hardware commitments can be a thing of the past, as you subscribe to a VoIP phone system just like you would any other cloud service.”