The ISDN Telephone Switch-off: Everything You Need to Know

The way UK businesses access telephony services is changing. In 2025, the UK’s ISDN network will be switched off, along with a range of analogue services, so you’ll need to act soon to ensure you’re ready for this.

Watch the ISDN Switch-off video below to learn what's happening and what you should do about it.

Openreach ISDN Telephone Switch-off: What are your options?

Is your business ready?
Learn more with our free White Paper

The first Stop-Sell was made effective from the 1st December 2020 in Salisbury. With 169 Exchanges to STOP-SELL from 2021, businesses can’t afford to put this off.

Openreach believes some 16 million lines will need to be moved into more modern solutions, so, ensuring voice and other phone-dependent services are secure for the digital-first era will be vital to the success of any business, no matter how large or small.

Topics covered in the ISDN Switch Off White Paper: 

  • Which alternative services are available?
  • How to go about migrating your services.
  • The benefits of SIP Trunking or cloud telephony solutions.
  • Which services are being switched off.
  • Why the switch-off is being made
  • Which systems will be affected
  • The challenges and opportunities this will present to businesses.

Get the White Paper Now!

isdn white paper download brochure

Commonly affected Systems

It’s important you act quickly to determine what services may be affected by the switch-off, as this technology goes beyond just voice. 

Openreach believes upgrading customers onto its new, ‘full fibre’ network will future-proof the digital economy and boost productivity.

If you use any of the following solutions, you may also need to start planning a migration now: 

  • Card machines
  • Emergency alarms
  • Lift-lines and help point systems
  • Door entry systems
  • Fax machines
  • Remote monitoring equipment

Contact our expert advisers for more information on what to do next:

'WLR Stop-Sell' from Jun-Oct 2021

Whilst the 2025 switch-off date is still a few years away, Openreach advanced the closure of services across 169 exchanges. 

Included in this list are locations such as Salisbury, Broadstairs, Bromsgrove, Doncaster, Orpington and Penzance.

The first Stop-Sell was made effective from the 1st December 2020 in Salisbury.

Click below to learn more about the early STOP SELL and see the full list of exchanges. 

If you are looking for alternatives to ISDN,
consider our Cloud Technologies

Our Cloud Solutions are tailored to suit every business, from small (< 25 seats) to large (1000’s of users) and include a full enterprise feature set with best of breed complementary applications. All of our Cloud Technologies are fully deployed, managed and maintained by Arrow support teams. 

Click below to learn more:

The ISDN telephone switch-off: Why you need to take action now

  1. Introduction: The need to upgrade your phone lines

Telecoms is a vital part of any business. But if you’ve been stuck using the same legacy phone lines for your voice calls or other key office technology functions for many years, the chances are you won’t be making the most of what the latest technology can offer.

However, there is an even more compelling reason for firms to upgrade their telephony solutions sooner rather than later. That’s because there is a major change coming in the communications market in the coming years – the switch-off of ISDN and analogue phone networks.

ISDN, which stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, is a set of standards for voice and data communications, which allows a single telephone line to carry not only voice calls, but also video and data. For many firms, this is likely to be the backbone of their phone network, with many phone lines reliant on this technology

The switch-off is set to take place in 2025, so if you’re still using ISDN or other legacy tools, the clock is ticking. It might seem like this is still a long way away, but you have less time than you may realise to evaluate your options and secure the technology you need for the future.

However, awareness of the coming change is still low and many firms, particularly smaller businesses, may find themselves confused by what will be required of them and what options are available. So what do you need to know about the switch-off and the impact it will have on how your firm communicates?

  1. The coming ISDN switch-off

The decision to switch off older telephone systems comes from network operator Openreach, which is aiming to migrate people away from older, less reliable communication technologies and on to digital services such as VoIP. This means many technologies that businesses have relied on for many years will no longer be available.

What’s changing and why?

The system that is being retired is the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is a series of copper telephone lines, fibre optic cables, microwave transmission links, satellites, undersea telephone cables and mobile networks that allow for calls to be made using analogue voice data. Currently, the plan is for this network to be withdrawn at the end of December 2025, with affected products no longer being sold after 2023 in preparation for this.

There are a number of issues with this network, with Openreach noting that in addition to ageing, unreliable technology, the system is becoming difficult to maintain, as many of the necessary spare parts are no longer being manufactured. What’s more, the firm explained that “many of the people who designed, built and operated the system are retired or close to retirement so skills are increasingly scarce”.[1]

PSTN supports a number of Openreach products that are collectively known as Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) products, which is why you may hear the switch-off referred to as the WLR withdrawal. These products include the likes of WLR3 analogue, ISDN 2 and ISDN 30, which are likely to be the backbone of many firms’ voice communications systems.

Tools like on-site PBX will be among the most commonly-affected solutions for many businesses. However, voice calls are not the only systems set to be affected by the move. Many small and medium-sized firms will use these phone systems for other uses, including card machines and alarm lines, so firms will have to take these elements into account when considering a migration.

Moving to a more capable future

The move to a fully digital communications network in the UK may be seen as long overdue. Indeed, many of our European neighbours are already much further down the road to a digital future, with France scheduled to complete its migration by the end of 2020, and Germany already having switched off analogue networks at the end of 2018.

A digital-first environment should not only be more reliable than existing copper-based lines, but will create a range of new opportunities for businesses to access more advanced features and support more specialist services. For businesses, it should encourage them to look at technologies such as cloud telephony and SIP services.  In addition to this, many firms will need to consider their data solutions if these currently run over traditional broadband or FTTC via an analogue line.

A SIP solution will replace an ISDN connection and connect firms to communications networks over the internet. This can bring a range of benefits to businesses, including lower costs, improved flexibility and greater freedom when it comes to your phone lines, including virtualised numbers, automatic redirection and much greater resiliency.

  1. What the migration means for your business

The switching off of ISDN and other outdated communications products will mean…

Download the White Paper to see more.