What Is The PSTN and How Can You Prepare for The PSTN Switch Off?

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The PSTN system has been in use since the 1800s. But the use of PSTN technology has been on the decline and is being gradually phased out. In 2017 Openreach announced it will be shutting down the PSTN system for good in December 2025.

In 2023 many businesses are still unaware of this. We regularly encounter business owners who are surprised to hear this. One of our previous articles covers the PSTN switch off in more detail.

The withdrawal will affect both business and residential users. In this article we will discuss what the PSTN is, what makes the switch off so significant and what you can do to prepare your business.

What Is The PSTN?

PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. It’s a network consisting of many interconnected switched telephone networks run by local, national or international carriers worldwide. These provide the necessary infrastructure for telecommunication.

More specifically, the PSTN is a combination of various underground and above ground or undersea wires, fibre optic cables, satellites, switching centres, cellular networks and other cable systems.

Phones that use the PSTN are often referred to as Landlines, Fixed-Line telephones or Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).

What Makes The PSTN So Significant?

The PSTN provides the world with the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere in seconds. It has done so for over a century now, and has been an integral part of all our lives. But, what many people might not realise is that it’s not just telephones that rely on on the PSTN.

Currently, most broadband services need a phone line installed. This is only changing now with introduction of services like SoGEA or FTTP which do not need one. Other services including CCTV, Lifts, Door Systems or Payment Terminals are also often connected via the PSTN.

What this means is that business owners might wrongfully think this will not affect them. But the reality is that even if you do not use landlines, the PSTN switch off can still cause disruption to your services. In the section below we will outline the steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared.

How to Prepare for the PSTN Switch Off

  1. Connectivity

    We recommend looking at your broadband connection first. Having a fast and reliable connection is very important in the modern business landscape. You need to check if you are still using an older connection that relies on a phone line, and look to upgrade to one the new broadband services.

    We chose this as the first step because all your other services and systems will need to be upgraded to digital alternatives. This means having a strong and stable internet connection will be necessary for everything to function properly.

    As mentioned previously, you might consider upgrading to SoGEA, FTTP or a 5G Mobile Network if available in your area.

  2. Communication

    Communication is the pillar of any successful business or collaborative effort. Once your internet is sorted, we recommend looking at your phone systems. In the UK you have until December 2025 before the PSTN is completely switched off for those without exemptions.

    You need to start looking at digital alternatives to your current phone system. Voice Over IP (VoIP) technology has become popular over the past decade. It allows you to make and receive calls over the internet. Switching to VoIP before the deadline means you will be able to continue making and receiving calls without any disruptions.

  3. Review remaining systems

    We mentioned above that telephones are not the only thing relying on PSTN technology. There are many day-to-day systems that businesses use which also rely on it. Those can be Lifts, CCTV Systems, Automatic Doors, Payment Terminals or Emergency Notification systems.

    You need to carefully review any services and systems your business uses and make sure they are upgraded before the deadline. For this you might want to book a professional to come and review what needs changing in case you’ve missed anything.

  4. Hardware Review

    Another thing to consider is the hardware you are using. Some older hardware may not be compatible with newer technologies. This means it may not work optimally or at all when you upgrade your systems. Therefore, you will need to make sure that all your devices and hardware will still be compatible before upgrading.

  5. Educate Employees

    When upgrading to new technologies you may have to educate your employees to make sure they can use new tools successfully. This can come in the form of training sessions or providing tutorials on how to use new software or hardware where necessary. Your provider should also be able to provide you with any necessary training or ongoing support.

    It’s important you take this into account, as your employees might need some time to get accustomed to new technology, especially if upgrading from much older systems.


To summarise, the PSTN system, which has been the backbone of global communication is being phased out. It is essential that businesses prepare for this. That means upgrading broadband services to ones that do not require a phone line, upgrading to digital phone systems, reviewing tools and technologies you use that run on PSTN technology, checking hardware compatibilities and educating employees where necessary.

Following those steps will ensure a smooth transition for your business. By being proactive in your preparations, you can avoid unnecessary disruptions and continue to provide your services without interruptions.

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