Now we have a better understanding of what we don’t need, let’s start looking at what we do need for different common scenarios.

I have a phone line, a filter, in the filter I have a Single analogue phone and broadband

Nothing changes for you

Line rental should drop significantly, so the phone line side would go from £15 to about £5 per month or less (Arguably, shouldn’t cost anything, but it will likely use VoIP exchange licences, so there is a reasonable cost to the supplier).

You need a new device called an “Analogue Gateway”, for about £25, but again should be free to you as a customer.

This Gateway plugs into your router, your analogue phone no longer connects to the filter but now connects to the analogue gateway.

I have featurelines

This is where you have 4 or 5 telephone lines delivered to each individual location that will have their own number, but then you have an additional number that will ring all of them or hunt around them.

You have two choices

1.      Get a multi-port analogue gateway (£60-80 ish)

Works similar to the single phone and you keep your POTs (Plain old telephones) that you have today.

It provides the same services as you would get on your featurelines today, along with the use of star codes.

2.      Transition to a hosted VoIP solution

You would require new handsets, potentially a new switch as well for additional capacity, or you could go for soft phones but I personally am not a fan of softphones as data management and protecting VoIP calls can difficult.

Considering we go for handsets

£80 per handset, 8 port POE switch £40-80

However, the likely issue you will have in either scenario is a cabling requirement and power requirements.

So these are the customers who will be impacted most by this change, you wouldn’t necessarily need new structured cabling, you may be able to re-use what is there, but then you may have a power supply requirement to go with the phones.

Either way you have a capital requirement, but your rental should go down.

The alternative to a structured cabling requirement, if that is needed, is to get a VoIP handset that has built in Wireless or get a wireless adapter for the phone. This can then connect back to your router without the need for cabling, but will still need a local power supply for the phone.

I have an on-site Phone system with Analogue lines

Same solution as the above, with one minor consideration.

A supplier is likely to push you down a route of a SIP Gateway and SIP trunk type rental, but none of that is necessary as they will provide what I am highlighting below, but just charge you more for it.

The reality is, you need an analogue gateway big enough to take all your current lines, that is it.

Your cost should be Analogue user extensions, so it wouldn’t be £13 per month SIP trunks, but rather, £5-7 per month VoIP Handset licences configured on an Analogue Gateway. These particular types of handset licences work just like your phone lines going into your phone system today.

The way your system currently works on PSTN phone lines will be something like this

  1. BT deliver X number of analogue lines to your premises, each with a unique number.
  2. Over the top of this, there is a single number that will dial the lines sequentially when someone phones you
  3. Your phone system will start at the other end of the lines for dialling out
  4. If all your lines are in use
  • Inbound calls stop at the Exchange as all lines are busy
  • The phone system will not be able to see a line that is not active

Nothing changes, on VoIP exchange these get set up as

1.      X User Extensions (unique numbers) for Analogue services

2.      The Analogue gateway ports are linked back to these X users

3.      A Ring Group/Hunt Group is set up to dial these in a sequential pattern

On site, you are literally unplugging cables from BT sockets and plugging them into the Analogue gateway in a corresponding order.

So the same as it is done today.

I have seen someone told they will need a new phone system when PSTN is turned off, it is a lie from the provider, as they need to do the above, halving their line rental and for about £100 worth of new equipment. They were quoted circa £14k for their PBX solution, which in its own right is about £8k more than it is worth at Retail price, followed by rental of £13 per channel and the need for a dedicated fibre line of £99 per month to ensure quality.

Everything written on this quote example was a lie, even if replacing the phone system.

I have any other phone system set up that was purchased in the last 10 years

More than likely, this will simply need the following

1.      LAN Card if it does not have one (unlikely, as it probably uses IP handsets)

2.      The licence enabled for SIP trunks

Generally speaking, that is the simplest way, if the phone system is enabled for SIP Trunks, then it doesn’t need a gateway, as it is a gateway.

Failing that

I have any phone system on any configuration of any age

This is the cheap VoIP solution that has been available to consumers to gain business without needing to replace all of their equipment.

You need a SIP Gateway, sometimes more than one, nothing else on your phone system changes, it stays exactly the same.

The SIP Gateway essentially replaces the Analogue, ISDN2 or ISDN30 lines you have, your phone system set up should not need to change.

The SIP gateway can work over your existing broadband connection.

In short, you do not need a new phone system.

If you are a customer of BT, or one of their re-sellers, it is important, really important to note, that they are responsible for providing a like for like replacement of your phone lines.

This upgrade does in no way shape or form require you to replace or change any on site equipment, but you may need an additional “box”

There are just easy ways to do it in certain scenarios.

But for you, the only difference is that the cable from your phone system that used to go to the phone lines, now goes to a different box.

Legacy vs switch off considerations

A lot of people are suggesting today that if you need to get more lines, consider replacing your equipment now.

A lot of people also suggest that on site phone systems last 5 years, but I have worked on one that was older than me today when I used it 10 years ago. Phone systems last as long as they last.

So in 2020 PSTN will become legacy, which means that you will not be able to purchase additional lines for your current solution.

So what do you do if you need more lines?

No different to everything highlighted above, you make a move to SIP using a gateway or by enabling the SIP licence on your phone system whilst increasing the SIP channels required.

If you have a sufficient business reason for replacing all of your equipment at a substantial cost, then that is a different scenario, but purely to overcome the PSTN switch off there is no need.

If for example your requirement for new lines sends you over the capacity of your current phone system, then yes, an alternative of replacing the phone system could be viable. But that is nothing to do with the switch off, that is a valid business reason.

You must make the move by 2025 in the current plan, but if you are a small business my suggestion would be

Let other people go first

There are a load of different providers, a load of new services, the way telecoms regulations work is that something has to go wrong, a load of consumers lose out with no return, then industry change may happen with new rules for providers.

When new rules are added in telecoms they generally don’t benefit existing customers, so play it cool, let other people make your mistakes for you.

On the following page we will look at some other considerations, this is where there can be a significant impact to both business and residential consumers, the solutions in this area are still not overly clear (although at the time of writing, I am still waiting to see the Ofcom update on feedback from various suppliers and consumers).

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