The Big Switch-Off, What’s it All About?

Vikki BournerWritten by Vikki Bourner, on 21 Jan, 2024

Have you heard about the big switch-off? You should have, it’s been on the cards since 2017 and will be completed by the end of January 2027, if not before. And you need to be ready!

If you don’t know, then the big switch-off refers to the PSTN and its replacement will be VoIP technology. Strangely this country-wide change hasn’t been covered much in the media and a recent Phonely X (Twitter) poll revealed that a shocking 59.6% of Brits over the age of 55 did not know about this upcoming mandatory change. So it’s ok if you don’t have the foggiest on what we’re talking about.

You could now be wondering, what’s PSTN? And, should I care if it’s being switched off? Who are Phonely? And what rabbit hole have I just gone down?

It’s OK, it’s OK! We can answer all your questions…except for the rabbit-hole one; in fact, we’d be interested to know how you got here ourselves!

Anyhow, enough questions, let’s get down to the answers, shall we?

Scroll down for all your big switch-off answers

What is PSTN?

PSTN stands for the public switched telephone network, in other words, your landline home phone. Every time someone tries to call your landline, the likelihood is that your conversation will take place via a network of wires that essentially run from your phone to that of your callers (with a few stops in between).

How will the PSTN switch-off affect me?

It might not affect you at all, especially if you have already moved away from the PSTN and are using VoIP technology (or digital voice as it’s also called).

It may affect you if you have a landline at home that you rely on that still uses the PSTN. By the end of January 2027, BT Openreach plans to retire the entire PSTN network and move everyone onto VoIP.

Will the PTSN big switch-off affect me?

Do I need to do anything now?

Technically, no. You could stay as you are until your current provider decides it’s time for you to switch. However, not all providers will offer VoIP. And if everyone leaves it until the last minute, there will be communication chaos. VoIP providers will struggle to migrate millions of numbers at once. This will potentially cause major disruptions to services and a shortage of compatible handsets.

So we recommend that you avoid that stress, beat the rush and start saving money now. Yes, you could have more money in the bank! PSTN is a costly service to run compared to VoIP. So you should see a reduction in your monthly bill if you switch now.

What is VoIP & how do I know if I’m ready for it?

We have dedicated blogs on VoIP and VoIP benefits but essentially, VoIP is your home phone just through your internet connection (router).

To be ready to use VoIP you will need a steady broadband connection and broadband provider. It may also be the case that you need a new home phone handset too, as not all existing ones are compatible. It’s advisable that you check with your new VoIP provider before making any purchases.

What can I do to get ready for the big switch-off?

Why is the PSTN being switched off?

It’s old tech and is expensive for Openreach (and the general public) to maintain. People have also realised that PSTN no longer suits the demands of communications in our modern society, so it’s time for a national upgrade.

But why call it big?

Well, it’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it? The last big switch-off we had in the UK was when we all went from analogue TV to digital TV. Plus it feels like the humble home telephone is the last of our Victorian institutions to retire. It’s served us well, but onwards and upwards!

Why is the switch-off so ‘big?’

Oh, & who is Phonely?

Phonely is a telecoms company built by a team of people with more than 20 years in the industry. Our goal has been to create a product that works alongside VoIP technology to keep people safe whilst using the telephone.

Phone fraud and scams increase year after year and can rob the most vulnerable in society of their confidence and independence in using their only form of communication with the outside world – the home phone.

Using our very brainy in-house tech team, Phonely have been able to launch CallGuard which offers protection to absolutely everyone who relies on or enjoys using their home phone.

For more information on the PSTN switch-off, you can visit Openreach’s website. They also have information about whether VoIP is available to you and when your specific area will expect to have PSTN switched off.

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