What's happening?

UK businesses brace themselves for telephone issues in light of BT announcement
23 Nov 2015
by Dani Wozencroft

Telecommunications experts in Shropshire have warned that a change of focus by a national company will lead to widespread issues with telephone systems for businesses across the UK.

Fluid Network Solutions, based in Shrewsbury, which runs the telephony network for out of hours GP service Shropdoc, predicts around 90per cent of companies in the UK will be affected by this week’s announcement by BT – and bosses are offering advice to Shropshire firms.

The CEO of BT has confirmed PSTN (analogue) and ISDN (digital) networks will be switched off in less than 10 years.

Rob Tolley, who set up Fluid nearly 13 years ago, said: “It means that sooner or later business users will have no choice but to go to Voice over Internet Protocol systems, known as VoIP.
“This affects all customers – we believe around 90per cent of companies in the UK are on digital and analogue networks and a good percentage of those do not have telephone systems that are IP compatible, so they will need to invest in new hardware.

“Whether it’s done now or left until later is down to each individual business but this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

As of August 2013, there were 3.2 million ISDN channels in the UK.

Although not all of these are on the BT network, a significant number of customers now have a date from which they will no longer be in service.

Mr Tolley is warning companies considering a new system or looking to upgrade their current hardware, they should choose an organisation that has a wealth of knowledge in VoIP and vast experience in upgrading organisations to IP telephony.

“Ten years can seem like a long way away, but in telephone system terms, if you do not choose the right one first time round, you are two systems away from having no choice,” he said.

“There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about when BT are going to switch off these networks but this official announcement will have taken some people by surprise.

“But the process will take time and I predict BT will start relatively soon to end of life the service by 2025 – businesses need to act now.

“We have made sure we are ahead of the game, installing IP telephony services for Shropdoc in 2012 so they will not be affected and most of our clients are moving to this service too.”

BT CEO Gavin Patterson made the announcement during a quarterly meeting of the firm.

He said BT envisages their network will be a single IP core network replacing all legacy networks and platforms.

Mr Patterson said: “We already serve many thousands of customers in businesses using IP, our goal is by 2025 all of our voice customers will be served using an IP with a premises solution and will migrate off the traditional telephony platform.”

Rob Tolley of Fluid Network Solutions

Rob Tolley of Fluid Network Solutions