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What is the PSTN and ISDN Switch Off?

18th October 2021
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The Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) is ageing and simply not cut out for the kind of data-rich communications that businesses need today. In late 2017, it was announced that the PSTN would reach its end of life in December 2025.

What is the PSTN?

The PSTN began its life in the late 1800s as a traditional circuit-switched telephone network. This legacy platform has provided businesses and households alike with a reliable means to communicate for generations, using copper wire to transmit voice communications all over the world. 

As technology evolved, so did the PSTN.  The ISDN  (Integrated Services Digital Network) was introduced into businesses as part of the PSTN infrastructure in the late 1980s. It was designed to enable the transmission of data over the line as well as to improve the speed and efficiency of voice communications using the copper wire already in place. This was followed by the introduction of the ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) in early 2000. The ADSL also utilises the copper infrastructure of the PSTN but with the addition of a microfilter on the line that allows users to make a phone call and surf the internet at the same time. The ADSL still accounts for over 50% of the UK’s active connectivity lines today.

The PSTN infrastructure has continued to grow and today is formed of a combination of networks worldwide, including telephone lines, fibre optic cables, switching centres, cellular networks, as well as satellites and cable systems. 

While PSTN lines are still in use, their popularity has been in a steady decline over the past decade. There are currently around 915 million fixed-line telephone subscriptions worldwide compared to 1,202 million in 2011.

Why change?

The analogue equipment underpinning the PSTN is outdated, costly to maintain and knowledge of the infrastructure is diminishing – that’s why communications providers (like us!) are migrating to an all-IP network. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a natural fit to replace the PSTN. VoIP is a technology that converts voice into digital signals that can be delivered over an IP network such, as the Internet. The migration to an all-IP network will simplify management for us and lead to a cheaper more efficient service for you!

What are my options?

We have a whole host of all-IP solutions and unique packages available to suit the needs of your business.

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