is your organization ready for analog switchover?
By Dominique Norton, Sales Manager, Spitfire Network Services Limited
Over the past couple of years, organizations of all shapes and sizes have faced the challenges that COVID has inflicted on us all.
Companies in the financial services industry are no different.
Technology has become both a headache but also a solution as businesses grapple with lockdown and the demands of a largely working-from-home workforce. Suddenly, employees needed to access resources remotely, outside of the normal office network. They were increasingly using different smart devices to work (not the desktop) and there was a huge demand for video conferencing solutions. Technology provided solutions and work life returned to (rather) normal.
But there’s another technology challenge looming on the horizon that your organization needs to think about now: analog and ISDN shutdown, 2025.
What is this “power off”?
We are talking about the end of the old analogue and ISDN telephone network here in the UK. Hardly surprising considering that part of the UK’s copper telephone network is now over 140 years old. This analog network is reaching the end of its useful life. With this in mind, Openreach is set to disable analog PSTN and ISDN phone services in 2025. It is likely that many businesses still use analog phone services that rely on copper cables. For example, the telephone handsets (and fax machines, if still in use) in your company office will be connected to your private branch exchange (PBX) using wall jacks. Copper cables then connect your company’s office to the local exchange, with calls then routed to their terminal destination via the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Your business needs to understand the impact of analogue switch-off on your day-to-day operations and the steps you need to take. Many businesses will try to figure out exactly how they can start the transition process that ultimately helps them avoid business disruption. And there are definitely some things you should consider.
Switch to VoIP
If your business is still using an analog or ISDN phone number service, then you will need to upgrade to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and subscribe to a SIP service. You can choose a Cloud PBX for example, but first check if your existing phone system is capable of using SIP trunks as another option. By using VoIP, all your phone calls will now go over IP instead of the old analog network. This can present the call quality challenge as IP telephony can be prone to poor service. By choosing carefully when considering your data path options, you can avoid call quality issues. Selecting the right data circuit should ensure consistent call quality, which is vitally important for any business, especially if fewer face-to-face meetings are taking place with customers.
What about broadband?
Choosing a broadband service should be no problem. If you can access “full fiber” or fiber to the premises (FTTP), this is the best broadband option. If FTTP is not available to your business, you can search for SOGEA (Generic Single Command Ethernet Access). This effectively allows providers to order broadband without a phone line, so your business gets an FTTC fiber broadband product but without the phone line capability. It allows your business to pay a one-time monthly rental for Internet access.
Appliances and sockets
If your organization currently uses other devices such as PDQ card machines, for example, they may also use analog lines. Our advice is to speak to the manufacturer of the device for more information. Your company may upgrade these devices to be able to connect to an IP network (or a 4G SIM card). If your company has installed security alarm lines, consider a solution such as Essential IP by Openreach which will allow your alarm system to communicate over IP. This could end up being a costly oversight, but don’t forget to check your outlets. IP services require power for each device, unlike old-fashioned analog systems that were powered directly from the phone line. Get enough outlets for your needs.
Keep voice quality in mind, always
Poor quality communication is frustrating for everyone. Your employees won’t thank you and the company’s customers will be put off. Make sure you’re working with a service provider that really has an in-depth knowledge of VoIP (from handsets to networks). Ultimately, call quality over VoIP will depend on the condition of your broadband line and how well it performs. For example, if your business suffers from slow and inconsistent internet speeds or lots of dropouts, your phone calls will suffer accordingly.
The buying process really needs to consider broadband/internet connectivity and VoIP services as a decision to be made, not separately, to ensure business quality phone calls.
Is your organization ready for analog and ISDN network shutdown in 2025? If you haven’t taken action yet, act now and start the process of transforming your business. The clock is turning.