Written by Chris Price Updated on 12 July 2023 On this page 6 Steps to Prepare Your Business for the PSTN Switch Off How to Switch Landline Providers Starting the Porting Process How Long Will Porting Take? Conclusion Expand For hundreds of years, homes and businesses have relied on conventional copper wire telephone lines to make and receive calls via standard handsets.However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) which supports these analogue lines is no longer adequate for modern internet-based communications.As a result, Openreach which manages most of the telecoms infrastructure in the UK, will switch off the PSTN in 2025. Not only will this affect those using analogue telephone lines for voice communications, but anyone using them for other services too – see ‘Check which devices need new phonelines’ below.In this article, we will look at the steps businesses need to do to get ready for the 2025 landline switch-off, including switching from analogue telephone lines to digital VoIP (voice over internet protocol).We also address some of the concerns businesses have when switching landline provider. 6 steps to prepare your business for the PSTN switch offEnsure you have robust internet connectivityBefore deciding to switch to a digital phone network it’s important to ensure that the broadband you have in place can manage new services. Digital voice services require high-bandwith, low-latency connectivity to ensure crystal-clear sound while popular video conferencing services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams need ample bandwidth to deliver both high-quality audio and video.Check which devices need new phonelinesImportantly, it’s not just analogue telephone lines that will need to switched over to digital telephony ahead of the 2025 switch-off. Any device that connects to the analogue phone network will need to be upgraded. This includes lines used for CCTV, alarm monitoring, fax services, door entry systems etc. It also includes any ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines you may still have as these use the analogue PSTN too.Check if you can keep your existing numbersBefore switching to digital telephony, check if you can transfer your existing landline telephone numbers to the new provider – a process known as porting. This is particularly useful if you are an established business and want to ensure your clients can keep in touch easily. Number porting in the UK is regulated by Ofcom. Its general rule is that you are always free to port your telephone numbers to a new service provider whenever you wish. However, there may be some geographical restrictions or complications so it is best to check with the new provider first.Choose the right handsetsDon’t just rush into replacing existing analogue handsets with the equivalent IP model! Use the opportunity to consider how your employees will really use the hardware in the digital age. For example, with more people working flexibly – whether that’s hot-desking in the office or working from home – it might not be necessary to have a phone at every desk. A better solution may be to provide a landline connection using a ‘softphone’ – an app that enables you to make/receive digital calls via a laptop, tablet or mobile phone using its built-in speaker/microphone.Assess new ways to communicateUpgrading to a digital phone service is much more than just replacing the hardware. It’s also about seizing new opportunities to help drive greater business efficiencies and finding new ways of working more effectively. For example, cloud-based digital voice systems typically offer a wealth of useful business features. These include detailed reporting at your fingertips that will help you understand how your clients and employees are engaging with one another and advanced integration with mobile phones and other digital devices.Talk to EmployeesRemember, this is a stressful time for staff too, especially if they are used to old ways of working. For example, they might be nervous that a whole new telephone system might interfere with their ability to do their work especially if they rely heavily on the phone for closing sales deals.Now may be a good time to provide staff with information about VoIP technology, and about how it will work, even as they continue to use the old PSTN system for the final few months. That way it won’t be such a surprise to staff when the digital switch over happens. How to switch landline providersFinally, once you've found a provider that you're happy with, contact them to initiate the switching process. They will typically need some basic information from you, such as your current landline number and account details.You will also need to provide your current provider with a cancellation notice. This often needs to be done in writing and you should give them at least 30 days' notice.To explore your best options when it comes to switching your provider, have a look at the best business phone lines, which can help you start your phone-switching journey. Starting the porting processThe process of porting numbers must be managed by your new service provider. It is their responsibility to request the numbers from the old provider. All you need to do is sign a standard Letter of Authority which gives the new provider permission to take over your numbers.The cost of porting your phone number will vary depending on your provider. Some providers offer the service for free when you sign up, while others charge a single porting fee. Some will levy a monthly fee for keeping your old phone number. Always ask your provider for a clear breakdown of any costs involved before you get started. How long will porting take?Porting a single number to a new provider should usually take seven days, if the information provided on the Letter of Authority is accurate, and if the losing provider doesn’t drag their feet.However, more complicated port requests with multiple numbers might take two or three weeks to complete. Meanwhile, your numbers will stay live and working with your existing provider until the agreed porting date. ConclusionThe way businesses communicate is changing. With Openreach switching off the analogue phone system in 2025, now is the perfect time to plan the switch to digital voice communications.In most cases you will be able to port your existing business landlines to the new VoIP system free of charge. Furthermore, you will also be able to benefit from advanced features such as the ability to make/receive landline calls from a laptop, smartphone or tablet giving your employees much greater flexibility for remote working. Written by: Chris Price Chris has been a freelance technology journalist since the 1990s. In addition to editing two consumer tech blogs, TechDigest.tv and ShinyShiny.tv, he also regularly contributes tech/business articles to various publications including The Daily Telegraph, Tech Radar, IFSEC Global and AI Business. A passionate outdoor swimmer, Chris is also a qualified lifeguard.