Is the Grim Reaper coming for Traditional Telecoms?

Sebastian Birch, Director of Focus Group, explains the changes coming to analogue telephone lines in 2025.

As you may or may not be aware making inbound and outbound calls over analogue lines has been around since the late 1800’s with ISDN being in place for over 25 years. Something some of us can relate to….it’s getting older and more tired!

Things are now changing quickly over the coming years with firm plans and timescales to move away from these traditional ways of making and receiving calls.

Whilst the loss of a traditional method of communicating might seem confusing and expensive it could actually present your school with an opportunity to be more productive and cost-effective.

What is the switch-off? 

BT are phasing out the traditional analogue and digital telephone systems. By the end of 2021 no new lines will be installed in some parts of the country and a permanent switch-off is planned for 2025. This is not just because this vast network requires a huge amount of maintenance but because it is now outdated technology, similar to when your TV switched from analogue to digital.

Going forward, all schools and colleges phone calls will be made – both domestically and internationally – via the internet, using a computer or connected device. This is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or ‘cloud’ telephony. Your calls will be handled via a desktop app, similar to Skype or FaceTime, or you can certainly still use a physical handset if preferred.

Who is affected? 

Any school still operating phones or internet using an analogue or ISDN line, unless you already use cloud-based telephony this means you!

BT has 2 million ISDN customers using over 6 million fixed landlines, all of whom will be affected. These companies must start planning a transition to VoIP now before their phone system becomes redundant.

But with a lot of the market already making the transition and switching their calls up into the cloud there’s no reason to be left behind.

What does this mean for your school or college? 

You will have to investigate moving your traditional telephones over to the new system. But it can be done easily and is an opportunity to make your telephony work harder for you because VoIP comes with lots of benefits.

Cloud telephony offers a more productive business future, one that is cost-effective, flexible, easy to maintain and scalable – meaning it can adapt as your requirements change. It offers increased mobility – if you have the internet you can make and take calls as easy as if you were at your desk, making it great for home-working, moving around the building and disaster recovery. It’s also an opportunity to improve the schools image. For example, no more dreaded engaged tones for parents calling in on a Monday morning!

Other benefits include:

  • Constancy – a portable number that can be used in any location
  • Easy expansion – it’s quick to add in new lines
  • Confidence – your system is hosted off-site and safe from any accidents
  • Savings – a reduction in costs of line rental and unlimited free calls
What options are available for Schools?

VoIP comes in 2 main flavours for schools and colleges to look at….

The First being by far the most popular option which is a Fully Hosted Telephone System as touched on above, where the ‘brains’ of the system are all ‘hosted’ externally in massive secure data centres and all you have on site is the physical handsets all going back to the router and out over your internet.

The Second is to try to use your current telephone system depending on age and spec and/or upgrade it to what is called ‘SIP Trunking’. Don’t let these new terms concern you too much, if you normally have say 4 lines on the schools main number for making/receiving calls, you would simple replace the old style lines for 4 SIP trunks. This then puts the calls over the internet and you can still make 4 simultaneous calls but with cheaper rentals and free calls.

What’s next? 

If you haven’t already started your transition to cloud-based telephony, then now is the time to talk to someone who can help.

Want to find out more?

Sebastian was our expert guest for April’s Practical Procurement Webinar: The Future of Telephony – What do you need to know and plan for? Don’t worry if you missed it, we recorded the webinar and you can view it by clicking the button below. Future webinars can be viewed on our webinars page.

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