CSL urges business to take action for a smooth PSTN cut-off transition

London, UK

Openreach (part of the BT Group) has recently announced an extension to the final switch-off of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in the UK to January 31, 2027. This extension provides an additional 13 months beyond the original deadline of December 31, 2025, allowing more time to ensure that services used by vulnerable individuals are upgraded following rigorous testing procedures.  CSL, the UK's leading Critical Connectivity provider, is urging stakeholders to take advantage of the extended timeline to ensure a smooth transition.

Here the CSL experts explain why this extension has been implemented and the importance of maintaining the momentum. The company most definitely appears to place emphasis on the importance of viewing this extension as a strategic move to use the time wisely and not as an opportunity to hold position and wait for a further 12 months before taking action.

Reasons behind the extension

  • The extension is designed to ensure all PSTN-dependent systems used by vulnerable people (e.g. Telecare alarms) are only upgraded following rigorous testing procedures.
  • Momentum for non-vulnerable connections will continue, with the aim of completing 7 million additional line upgrades – to match the 7 million already completed.
  • Despite the deadline extension, industry experts emphasise the importance of maintaining the pace of migration efforts to prevent future disruptions.

Maintaining momentum

Despite the extended deadline, it's crucial not to view this as a pause but rather as a strategic extension. The additional time should be used to ensure the migration process is thorough and minimally disruptive. Industry experts emphasise that proactive planning is essential to avoid future disruptions.

The Telecare Services Association (TSA) has stressed the importance of maintaining the pace of migration efforts:

“Despite the extension of the digital switchover deadline, we emphasise the importance of maintaining momentum in migration efforts. This new timeline should not be perceived as a pause but as a strategic extension to ensure that the migration process is comprehensive and minimally disruptive”.

They also highlighted that analogue protocols are continuing to become less reliable, reinforcing the need for businesses to upgrade to digital communication networks to avoid disruptions and ensure safety. Some estimates suggest first-time call failures, where a Telecare system cannot communicate correctly over the newer digital network, are as high as 30%.

Addressing concerns in the Telecare sector

The delay addresses the concerns primarily centred around Telecare services used by vulnerable people. These systems must be upgraded but require rigorous testing to ensure they are working correctly, which results in a longer installation period. This extension aims to ensure that 1.8 million vulnerable individuals who rely on these emergency alarms will continue to have reliable service.

Recent incidents have highlighted the critical nature of this transition. Two vulnerable individuals died shortly after their health pendants failed due to the switch-off of their analogue phone lines. Although their deaths have not been formally linked to the non-functioning devices or landline switches, these incidents led to heightened scrutiny and delayed the digital switchover.

Other critical services sectors

Whilst the Telecare sector has been identified as a key area of concern for the Government, Openreach and Industry stakeholders, it is unlikely that any increase in testing will take place for systems connected to other critical services e.g. security, fire and lift alarms. It is likely that these systems will be upgraded at the same pace as previous phases of this project. Therefore, CSL is encouraging all its partners and customers to maintain the momentum thus far.

Business and public concerns

As the deadline approached, businesses expressed concern about the programme. Research indicates that 54% of businesses feel the switch-off has not been well-publicised. This highlights the need for continued education and support to ensure all sectors are adequately prepared.

Fit to Switch is an initiative aiming to educate end-users and businesses across various sectors about the potential risks when Openreach switches off the PSTN network in 2027. CSL joined Fit to Switch as a National Champion last year. In an effort to serve as an independent touchstone for businesses to ensure they are ready to switch over, keeping their staff safe and their customers satisfied.

CSL makes a closing statement. "As the UK's leading Critical Connectivity provider, we urge stakeholders to take advantage of the extended timeline to ensure a smooth transition. We have helped our customers upgrade hundreds of thousands of PSTN connections over the past 10 years. Today, we are working across many industries to help businesses and consumers futureproof their connectivity ahead of the 2027 deadline. Our expertise in providing robust, future-proof communication solutions such as Voicelink is crucial during this period."


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