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The Big Switch Off: A New Opportunity for UK Businesses

Chris Wade, CMPO at Gamma writing exclusively for UK Tech News

In case you haven’t heard, a significant change is coming to the telecoms industry. In 2025, BT will be switching off its PSTN and ISDN phone lines. These analogue services were used for our communication, security and surveillance since the invention of the telephone itself.

But times have changed and technology has come on leaps and bounds. Digital and cloud-based solutions have stepped up to offer us faster, more reliable methods of communicating, making those old, analogue services redundant.

The Big Switch Off, as it has been dubbed, is happening in 2025 and before that, in September 2023 BT will officially stop selling services that rely on the old lines. Understandably, this has raised some uncertainty and many questions, particularly from businesses, as any big step away from what we’ve always known will do.

 

What can businesses expect?

From office landlines and fax machines, to CCTV and door-entry security systems, these office staples will no longer work in 2025. Many of these things have always ‘just worked’ and are rarely given much thought, but now there is much for businesses to consider as they look to the future.

This is no simple change of telephone. It’s an opportunity for businesses to digitally transform and future-proof their operations in a way that can easily adapt to technology advancements in years to come. It’s an opportunity to improve sustainability and to upgrade your tech stack with new tools that will increase efficiency and productivity in your team.

Businesses can expect to be presented with many choices in digital alternatives, depending on what they need. This can undoubtedly feel overwhelming. My advice to business leaders considering their options and unsure where to start is this:

1. Consider what you need to directly replace and what you will lose in the Switch Off

2. Consider what upgrades will enhance your business the most

 

Digital and cloud-based tools today offer far more than just a line of communication. This means, despite the Switch Off being something your business might not have chosen, it is an opportunity to grow. As much as replacing what you will lose is important, I urge leaders to not simply replace but to upgrade and reap the benefits.

 

What are the alternative solutions?

 Voice-over Internet Protocol, otherwise known as VoIP, services will be leading the way as the best alternative to previous analogue services. This cloud-based technology will allow you to make calls from anywhere, at any time befitting a modern business structure.

But as I already mentioned, VoIP is more than just a direct replacement for landlines. They are tools to be implemented into your business that can support and augment other business functions too. Many of the VoIP providers offer technology that can also integrate seamlessly with other business software. Some platforms can link directly to your CRM automatically record sales calls to your key prospects, and link to cloud-based accounting software.

What was once separate tools offering a single business function, is now a network within your business that shares information quickly and easily offering multiple functions and capabilities we didn’t have before.

This can go one step further still with Unified Communications (UCaaS). This is an innovative technology stack that can bring all of your comms tools together in a single app, greatly increasing business growth and operational flexibility. It is what we call a ‘total solution’ for businesses, able to manage voice, video, messaging, file sharing and more, all in one central tool.

 

What are the real benefits of the Switch Off?

 Aside from the operational benefits to your business, which include many of what we’ve already discussed like greater internal efficiency and productivity from the ease of use and speed of these new digital tools – there are other benefits this big telecoms change will bring.

Today, businesses face many challenges that are larger than any one business can overcome alone. Economic upheaval requires businesses to be nimble and ready to adapt to any number of unexpected barriers. Because of this, flexibility is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity and that includes having flexible infrastructures. Where the copper wiring of old kept businesses anchored to an office, digital and cloud-based tools allow you to upscale and downscale your infrastructure to match your business’ ongoing operational needs, reducing costs by only using what is required.

Decision making during these uncertain times needs to be accelerated. This means your communications between employees, customers, suppliers and partners also need to be fast to maintain or deepen relationships and support those all-important business decisions. Again, this is something that PSTN phone lines were not always able to offer, but today’s tools can match your speed and more.

And of course, we cannot overlook the sustainable benefits. As the UK strives for its Net Zero target, businesses are increasingly expected to do their part. Digital and cloud-based tools reduce your carbon footprint by deploying video, messaging and more to service customers, instead of relying on resource-wasting travel.

In short, the benefits of The Big Switch Off greatly outweigh the inconvenience it poses to businesses. If business leaders grasp this opportunity with both hands, they have the potential to unlock impressive growth in the future.

Remember – this is not just a case of replacing what we lose, it’s a milestone for the UK economy and businesses that will mark a new era of business communications if considered carefully. Businesses that miss this chance to digitally transform now, will find themselves back here in the not too distant future wondering where they went wrong and why they didn’t make these changes sooner.