‘Fit to Switch’ calls for acknowledgement and support for PSTN switch off

Fit to Switch, an industry-wide campaign launched by MA Business title Comms Business, aims to support BT’s decision to retire the public switched telephone network (PSTN) by raising awareness of the imminent deadline.

In 2017, BT announced plans to retire its existing analogue PSTN copper infrastructure by the end of December 2025.

The switch off renders any technology connected to the PSTN network, such as phone lines, fire and security alarms, IT back-up systems, emergency-pull cords in disabled toilets, and lift emergency-call lines, as obsolete once the copper wire is turned off.

According to the Fit to Switch campaign, many businesses and consumers are unaware of the impending switch, with many at risk of losing their telephone and internet services if they do not install the Openreach fibre network in time.

Gamma, a telecoms company and supporter of the campaign, said their latest study found that one-third of respondents had ‘no idea’ that the switch was happening, and of the two-thirds that did, only 75 per cent had a clear migration plan.

The old PSTN network provides an ‘always-on’, fail-safe service, with a 48V DC power supply constantly serving the line, which enables phone calls to instantly connect and alarm systems to automatically sound.

Openreach’s replacement fibre network, in comparison, is passive until it is ‘lit’ by equipment, and requires a modem and power source, as well as a battery back-up in case of a power cut.

Fit to Switch said that BT’s transformation, which began is 2018, is behind schedule, as the phase transition is less than 40 per cent complete. The campaign aims to ‘re-energise and support’ the transformation opportunity to the fibre network, by raising awareness to ensure protection for consumers and benefits to businesses, before the December 2025 deadline.

In a statement, co-founder Chris Pateman, said: “The technologies at risk are not small things, they are not things we cannot cope with. If you have not anticipated the change, you are at great risk.

“These risks can be mitigated very easily, but we all have to act now.”

The campaign is supported by multiple cross-industry ‘National Champions’, including Daisy, Giacom, Sangoma, CSL and Comms Council UK.

Dr Lucy Green, CEO of Larato, emphasised the potential that the switch could offer SMEs and their local telecommunication resellers, as this could enable economic localisation and growth across the UK.

“Openreach needs to engage with Fit to Switch to ensure the upside and benefits of the transition are articulated widely, so that all British businesses can make use of this change”, said Green.

More information on the Fit to Switch campaign can be found here.