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The great switch off

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page

The traditional landline is being phased out. BT Openreach has planned to switch off the UK’s PSTN and ISDN telephone network services by 2025. A suite of all IP (Internet Protocol) products will replace the existing infrastructure to enable the future of the UK’s superfast and ultrafast networks. How we communicate will move to all internet-based solutions. The reason for the change aligns with the introduction of advanced technologies over the past several years. So the infrastructure that supports everything is now no longer fit for purpose as we move towards a more digital world. Kayleigh Ogley, marketing executive at the VS Group, writes about ‘the great switch off’ and alternatives for charities.

A recent survey reported by ISPreview found almost half of organisations have no idea that Openreach plans to switch off existing analogue phones and ISDN services entirely by December 2025. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time to get a plan and prepare for the impending changes, minimising any disruption to the running of your organisation.  

What is the alternative?

Suppose you chat with friends and family using Whatsapp or Skype. In that case, although you may not know it, this technology is called VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. You use broadband to make calls rather than cellular or fixed landline services.

Landlines can be tied into old-fashioned, long contracts with upfront connection charges, making this option not very cost-effective. Whereas VoIP opens up a world where every organisation can harness the power of digital enablement, eliminating the restrictions of outdated technology.

How can a charity benefit from VoIP?

Flexibility

Using VoIP based technology offers flexibility that has always lacked with traditional landline and mobile services. With a reliable internet connection, staff can work from any location. Every call counts for a charity, whether that is to increase donations or offer live-saving support. Fortunately, VoIP provides a range of inclusive and additional features that add essential value:

  • If you’re away from the fixed office, you can take calls on your mobile or desktop app
  • Add custom call waiting which can include messages of importance such as letting the caller know they can take care of their issue using your website
  • Hunt group features can direct calls to several users at once. In the unlikely event that nobody on the team is available to answer, a professional voicemail can be added and any new messages sent via email as a recording or a transcribed message

Cost

It’s no secret that not-for-profits and charities have constant looming pressure with reduced funding coinciding with an increased demand for services, especially post-pandemic. What you’ll be pleased to know is that VoIP often works out more cost-effective. VoIP user licenses usually work on a cost per person basis and come including a bundle of minutes and handset if required. However, incorporating a BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) policy with a VoIP product – using your own personal laptop or mobile phone with softphone capability – could add to considerable savings on equipment costs.

Support

There is no physical equipment required to use VoIP. Suppose you prefer the softphone side of the solution, using your mobile, laptop or handheld device to make and receive calls. In that case, you won’t have the burden of maintaining a telephone system. Hardware maintenance costs and monthly charges can rack up quickly, especially concerning bespoke or ageing equipment; parts and engineers can be hard to come by. As VoIP is provisioned and works using the internet, support can be provided remotely and free of charge.

What do I need to do now?

There is no need to wait until nearer the deadline. The replacement services are likely accessible to you now, so the sooner a plan is in place, the better. At the moment, you can register your interest with us, and if and when you’re ready, we will work with you to get prepared.

In the meantime, please take the time to understand what services you may have attached to your phone line as you must consider this. These are just a few examples;

  • Telephone systems
  • Alarm lines or CCTV
  • Card payment terminals
  • Fax machines
  • Extra telephones
  • Health care pendants

By helping us understand your needs and requirements, we will assist with your migration onto VoIP services. Together, we can find a better way for your team to communicate and collaborate for years to come. Get in touch to find out what VS Group can do to help you.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

Image by rawpixel.com

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