The Switch to “Digital Voice”
Back in April 2021, BT Openreach announced that starting from the end of the year and finishing in 2025, it would be “switching off the UK telephone network as we know it” by moving 15 million lines (some figures say switching 29 million home landlines) to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) based replacement telephone service. The big switchover to digital was branded ‘Digital Voice’.
In essence, this means that the Internet (broadband) will be used to digitally carry telephone calls rather than traditional copper wires, i.e. landline voice calls will be transmitted digitally. In individual homes for example, this will mean that people will plug a new digital phone, powered by mains electricity, into their router rather than a socket in the wall.
End For ISDN Too
Switching off the UK’s traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) will also mean the end for ISDN because it uses the copper wire phone network. Also, BT Openreach will not be accepting new orders for PSTN, and ISDN2 and ISDN30 services after September 2023.
As noted by Ofcom, the old PSTN is reaching the end of its life and is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain, and Openreach may be looking to ditch the legacy copper network completely, so it won’t have to pay to run two parallel networks. Also, there are now more up-to-date alternatives that are compatible with how we communicate today, i.e. mobile and Internet communications. Broadly speaking, some advantages for customers of the switch-over to VoIP include many benefits:
– VoIP offers a greater breadth of capabilities.
– Cost savings and fewer system failures and outages and reduced complexity for providers.
– Scalability and portability (VoIP phone systems can go wherever the company goes).
– Greater communications-mobility, flexibility, and increased productivity and collaboration. The importance of this has been particularly well-illustrated with the need to use remote, cloud-based communications and collaborative working platforms during the pandemic.
– Better security that’s continuously updated.
– Greater reliability.
– Improved customer experiences.
– Clearer calls, making it easier to keep existing numbers, and the choice to have broadband provided separately from the telephone service.
– Better identification and prevention of nuisance calls, thereby saving businesses time and money and potentially protecting against scammers.
Moving to a cloud-based unified communications system doesn’t have to be daunting.
If so, there are a few important things to consider before choosing a provider and making the switch. For example, how will one provider’s solution serve specific departmental needs, as well as the requirements of your organisation as a whole? And how will they be able to better equip you with the required tools to simplify your communications infrastructure while increasing collaboration and user productivity? Plus, don’t forget to consider the cost, both one-time and recurring, when comparing solutions.
Use these five questions below to guide your journey and ensure that you have all the facts you need to evaluate UCaaS providers.
1. Is your Unified Communications solution a true cloud offering?
There are true cloud solutions, hosted solutions, and hybrid cloud solutions on the market today that all fall under the “cloud solution” umbrella.
A true cloud UC solution offers full PBX functionality, as well as video meetings and collaboration features all on a self-owned and maintained single, global platform. With a hosted solution, the PBX and any other hardware needed to support your UC solution is hosted at the UC vendor’s data center(s). Hybrid cloud is another way of saying partly on-premises. Often, legacy UC providers will offer a hybrid solution as a step towards the cloud. The true cloud choice is increasingly becoming organizations’ top choice, due to its security, simplicity, and reliability, with built-in disaster recovery, seamless integrations, advanced data and analytics, and more.
2. How will your cloud-based Unified Communications solution increase productivity within my organization?
There are plenty of ways that a cloud-based UC solution saves a business time and increases productivity. A true UCaaS solution should include enterprise voice, messaging, video conferencing, and contact center as components of the overall solution. When it comes to ensuring an increase in productivity, look for these crucial elements:
- One vendor and a single solution that meets your business’ global communications needs
- Financially-backed, platform-wide 99.999% uptime SLA
- Integrations with other productivity and business applications
- Simple provisioning, MACD/system management, and user self-service features
3. How does your solution support a mobile and distributed workforce?
Many organisations are now opting for a mobile-first strategy, replacing traditional desk phones with smartphones and tablets. The pandemic sped up the move to hybrid and remote work models, which have now become a business norm. Plus, millennials are quickly becoming the most influential population in the workforce, and over the next few years, they will make up the majority of the workforce.
When choosing a UCaaS solution, be sure to ask how their solution supports mobility. Pay close attention to the mobile application—specifically feature parity, look and feel, and usability on the go.
4.What is the process for expanding your UCaaS solution to accommodate business growth?
A true cloud communications platform will grow with you, simply and seamlessly. Adding a new user or a new location should be a matter of licensing and provisioning—that’s it.
Your business communications platform is the lifeline of the organisation, and you can’t take the risk of downtime. Ask the provider to offer details around their data centers and procedures, including business continuity plans. Ask how localised calling experience is provided with their solutions, and watch out for workaround words, such as “gateways” and “local carriers.”
5. What is your implementation process?
In order to realise the benefits of a cloud communications platform, you need a holistic view of the technologies that exist within your organisation today, the desired outcome for your organisation, and a team of true unified communications experts to efficiently and effectively bring it all together. Cloud communications offer rich functionality and great performance, irrespective of the device, mode of connection, or user’s location. They are also able to adapt to changing traffic patterns and user behaviors with no impact to quality and experience. In addition, with the evolution of technology, cloud solutions support high availability and quality of service, and even offer financially-backed uptime SLAs, even on public internet connections, simplifying connectivity requirements for branch and remote users. Partner with UCaaS providers that offer cloud communications expertise to help you design a solution to meet your specific business needs and implement the solution in lockstep with your project management organisation.
Want to learn more about choosing a solution that is best for your business? Speak with KBS experts to enable a seamless transition to the cloud now.