Everything you need to know about the Great British Switch off (but were afraid to ask)
1. What is happening?
Traditional telephone services as we know it are being switched off in 2025, which means that every business in the country will need to switch to using a digital IP-based phone line (Internet Protocol) system by then instead, which enables voice calls to be made over an internet connection.
2. Who will need to make this switch?
The majority of landline customers; that means businesses of all sizes from small micro-businesses and SMEs through to large corporations. Right now around 40% of small businesses still use traditional phones, so a lot of change will have to take place over the next few years.
3. Why is it happening?
Traditional phone lines have been around for more than 100 years, they are very susceptible to problems and cannot deliver the faster broadband speeds which today’s technologies now require. At the same time, fibre-based digital systems have become increasingly advanced, enabling far greater flexibility and functionality than traditional services ever could. Even the most basic IP systems will enable businesses to make and receive phone calls on multiple devices using the same number, add users as needed and seamlessly link to applications such as video calls and collaboration tools. And because these digital systems are based in the cloud, you can access systems and answer calls from anywhere there is an internet connection.
4. Can I decide not to take part in the switch?
No – The UK’s largest phone network operator Openreach has announced it will stop providing traditional phone lines by 2025 which means that other operators are highly likely to follow suit. But you won’t want to be left behind anyway – digital systems can give even the smallest business a big jump forward in terms of flexibility and functionality.
5. Can I keep my existing phone numbers?
Yes, you certainly can – although if you currently have lots of numbers you may find that you don’t actually need them all. One of the big advantages of digital systems over traditional landlines is you can have the same number on multiple devices, so when customers ring your office you can answer the call anywhere you happen to be.
6. Will I need to get new phones?
Possibly, it depends on what type of handset you have but we can certainly help you with that. Handsets need to be compatible with digital services or alternatively, you may be able to use an adapter on your current phone to convert it. It is not complicated though – you just plug the IP phone into your digital system and you will be ready to make and receive calls.
7. Will switching to a digital system cost me more?
No – in fact, you may well find that your business saves money by making the switch. The flexibility and functionality that a digital system can offer will provide cost-savings – you can add or remove phone numbers and users at the click of a mouse, and as upgrades are done remotely, you will always have the latest features and updates.
8. Does the switch only apply to phones?
No – switching off the traditional network will also affect any piece of technology that relies on a traditional phone line, such as emergency phones in lifts, panic alarms, door-entry systems, CCTV and EPOS payment terminals. So if your business uses any of these you will need to make sure they are integrated into your digital system.
9. Will a digital system be secure and reliable?
Yes – your phone network will be protected by the same things that currently protect your internet network, such as firewalls, encryption and authentication. In addition, phone lines that connect over the internet are more reliable than traditional phone lines.
10. I’m only a very small business, will switching still be suitable for me?
Yes – you can make the switch with a single digital line and then easily add more phones or users as your business grows.
11. Do I need to wait until 2025 before making the switch?
No definitely not – you can do it straight away; in fact the sooner you do it, the quicker you will be able to take advantage of the greater flexibility and functionality a digital system can give your business – and the likely cost savings too.
12. Where can I get help with all this?
XLN has already helped thousands of businesses like yours make the switch to digital and we are here to help you too. Our Cloud Voice IP digital system has been specially built for small businesses and will enable you to make the most of this fantastic opportunity to switch up. Just get in touch on 0344 880 7777 and we can take it from there.