With Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) services getting switched off forever in the U.K. starting in 2025 and with sales and service cutoffs happening as soon as Q4 2023, IT and communications leaders across all industries are under pressure to start crafting a smooth migration plan. Every company using legacy, copper lines needs to transition to fiber infrastructure and VoIP (Voice over IP) services. But what are the mistakes to avoid as companies modernise their communications systems? We’ll cover that and the best tips for success in this article.
PSTN services (also known as POTS lines) are phone call communications systems being discontinued, given the proliferation of the fiber infrastructure and the expense to maintain this legacy analog service. Learn why it’s the end of PSTN in our previous article.
The Challenges of a PSTN Migration Plan
PSTNs transitions are no simple task, as service cutovers run the risk of disruptions to critical business communications systems. After all, PSTN lines have been an everlasting dinosaur due to their unwavering reliability. Continuous service explains why PSTN has remained a preferred choice for supporting things like contact centers phone calls, point-of-sale systems, alarms, elevators, emergency-use phones, closed circuit TV (CCTV), and fax lines – to name just a few. Consider that nearly 90% of UK businesses still rely on PSTN.
Crafting a migration plan often means needing to organize a cross-departmental team to evaluate needs and build a phased implementation plan that carefully avoids service downtime. Coordinating multiple service providers and dedicating the staff and internal resources to support the effort can be equally daunting.
PSTN Transitions: The 3 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid
In smoothing out any bumps along the path to fiber, VoIP, and unified communications systems, leaders should be aware of these common pitfalls.
1. Services Unknown, Support Inadequate
Approaching deadlines can rush the transition, making it easy to forget about that emergency phone in the lobby elevator. Every migration plan should perform an audit of all existing PSTN lines, so leaders can inventory and prioritize every single service that needs to migrate.
But it’s not just about making a laundry list of PSTN services.
IT networks are hidden behind the scenes, yet another critical consideration in ensuring your new replacement solution has the underlying infrastructure it needs to support communications with 100% reliability. Many corporate networks are not architected to deliver the high performance required by cloud-based communications. That’s why IT leaders need to be involved, working to power VoIP and UCaaS technologies with the right bandwidth. If network upgrades are needed or if new circuits and SD-WAN installations are required, timelines can be impacted.
Audits and network preparation are keys to success. When it’s crunch time, don’t let these critical preparation steps become your lesson learned.
2. Hardware and Router Delays
Supply chain issues may not be hitting the news headlines like they used to, but they can still be a big threat to your PSTN project. Demand for communications hardware and network routers is already rising, creating delays in delivery. Getting your orders placed early can be the difference between an implementation plan on schedule and delays of 6 months or more. Use your audit and network preparation steps (above) to scope your needs and over-order rather than under-order.
SUCCESS TIP: As of August 2023, Tangoe was seeing longer-than-usual hardware turn times of 6 months, and we expect those to lengthen as 2025 approaches. While this can serve as a barometer in gauging your delivery schedule, make inquiries with your specific vendor(s).
3. Approaching Your Upgrade as a Cost, rather than a Savings
It’s human nature to think of any modernization effort as an initiative that needs to be funded and budgeted for, but the experience of many IT and finance leaders might surprise you. As a software and service provider helping IT leaders cut their telecom costs Tangoe, finds that companies can actually save 15-30% when they modernise their PSTN systems and renegotiate their telecom contracts.
There are a variety of PSTN alternatives to consider and shopping all your options allows for the biggest savings. Don’t assume that your current provider’s solution is the best and only way to go, as that can be equated to selling yourself short.
SUCCESS TIP: If your current PSTN costs are in the $100+/month range and you have a high quantity of lines, your potential cost savings can be quite substantial. Our previous article explains how to turn a PSTN upgrade into a cost savings.
As we all know, having the time to do your due diligence pays off in the end. Make sure you leave time for a cost savings assessment and proper procurement process to find the best deal for your chosen PSTN solution and your specific business needs.
Conclusion: Modernisation is Forced, but the Emergency is Optional
The certainty of business continuity is rooted in consistent communications, and as a service critical to 90% of companies, the PSTN switch-off is one of the biggest threats to business over the next two years. But while PSTN modernization is being forced upon companies large and small, the urgency of the situation is entirely optional. Those that proactively plan ahead will avoid the emergencies of downtime by avoiding common mistakes. In fact, the sign of a well-executed PSTN replacement plan is one that goes entirely unnoticed, but the perfect plan is one that combines a ghost of a solution with a cost savings for the IT budget.
It’s all possible with the right plan, the right solution, and the right timing.
As the trust the +20-year pioneer in telecom expense management, Tangoe can help you get there.