The PSTN Switch-Off Delay: What It Means for Businesses

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BT Group announced a significant update: the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) ‘s planned switch-off was delayed until January 2027. Initially set for December 2025, this 13-month extension gives businesses and service providers more time to transition smoothly to IP-based alternatives. This decision comes as a response to the challenges faced during the initial trials and a commitment to protecting vulnerable customers.

Understanding the Delay

BT’s announcement comes after extensive trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall. These trials revealed critical insights into the challenges of migrating end customers, particularly those less engaged or with additional needs, such as telecare users. The feedback from these trials emphasised the importance of ensuring that all customers, especially the vulnerable ones, have a smooth and safe transition to the new technology.

Recent tragic incidents involving vulnerable customers further highlighted the need for a more robust and thoughtful approach to the PSTN switch-off. BT’s decision to delay the switch-off reflects a commitment to enhancing the program and providing additional support where necessary.

The Urgency of Transitioning

Despite the extension, it’s important to remember that the PSTN is nearing the end of its serviceable life. The Ofcom Connected Nations UK Report 2023 provided some alarming statistics:

In 2023, the number of PSTN incidents increased by 20%.

There was a 60% increase in hours lost for customers on the PSTN in 2023.

These figures underscore the urgency of transitioning to more reliable IP-based voice and data services. Continuing to rely on the ageing PSTN infrastructure increases the risk of service disruptions and quality issues.

Implications for Channel Partners

This delay should be seen as an opportunity rather than a reason to procrastinate for channel partners. BT will continue switching off local telephone exchanges, maintaining the momentum towards the eventual PSTN shutdown. Channel partners now have additional time to:

•Identify new business opportunities

•Prioritise customer relationships

•Ensure a seamless migration for their existing customer base

The extension allows for a more measured approach to the transition, minimising the risk of service interruptions and ensuring that alternative solutions are firmly in place.

Enhanced Coverage and Reliability

One key benefit of this delay is its opportunity to enhance coverage and reliability. BT and other service providers now have more time to address fibre optic network coverage gaps. This aligns with Openreach’s ambitious plan to provide gigabit-capable broadband to 25 million premises by the end of 2026 and achieve nearly universal coverage by 2030. Businesses, particularly rural ones, can expect improved connectivity and more reliable services.

Preparing for the Future

While the PSTN switch-off has been delayed, the goal remains the same: transitioning to more modern, reliable IP-based services. Businesses should use this additional time to prepare effectively. Here are some steps to consider:

Assess Current Infrastructure: Evaluate your phone and data systems to determine needed upgrades.

Engage with Providers: Communicate with your service providers to understand the timeline and requirements for transitioning to IP-based services.

Plan for Continuity: Ensure that your business continuity plans include provisions for the transition, minimising potential disruptions.

Train Your Team: Ensure employees are trained for the changes and understand how to use the new technology effectively.

While the delay in the PSTN switch-off provides more time for businesses to transition, it is crucial not to delay preparations. 


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