INSIGHT

In 2025 the UK will hang up on analogue phones for good

Phone lines that rely on copper wire networks have been around for decades, but by 2025 the service will be fully decommissioned. So what’s going to replace them? And are you ready for the switch?

Voice communication tech has changed. The world has shifted away from the traditional blend of mobiles, landlines and conference services and is embracing cloud-based, fully integrated solutions. 

For businesses, this represents an incredible opportunity to move to a phone system that works seamlessly with the technology that’s already second nature to their employees and customers, whether they’re communicating through cloud applications, smartphones or over the top services like Microsoft Teams. 

This technology has really come into its own through the pandemic and beyond. Whether we’re working in the office or at the kitchen table, we’ve been dialling in to communicate and collaborate via online tools like Cisco Webex, or using online apps such as Google Drive. 

The next generation of business communications is readily available – so all we need is a service that brings it all together. 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) uses internet connections instead of copper cabling. 

Huge advances, along with the upheaval caused by multiple lockdowns and increased remote working, have turned VoIP from a relatively niche tool into something many of us are using to communicate every single day. 

Because once you’ve got going, it really is simple. Thanks to the power of fibre optic cabling and 24/7 support from your internet service provider, you’ll have the reassurance that your call quality will never be compromised. 

And with many providers offering incentives like unlimited calls as part of a standard package, you’ll be saving on call costs too. 

Why should you care?

BT has announced that it will migrate all its customers to an IP system by 2025, but that’s only part of the story. 

Compared to the infrastructure and management requirements of copper networks, VoIP is faster, easily customisable and fully integrated as part of a business’s digital communication structure. 

With tools like Cisco Webex, you can integrate all your collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Drive into one interface, so everyone is connected in just a few taps.

Are you future-ready?

With VoIP you also have complete control over call routing – to the next available sales person, for example, or a call centre abroad during busy times, or even just to your voicemail when you’re out and about visiting clients. 

These calls are all free as part of your data plan. On top of that you can easily scale your system up as your business grows at the flick of a switch, rather than waiting for an engineer and a road to be dug up. 

A delay of up to 60 days can be reduced to less than a minute, helping your business grow at speed. 

It’s not only the phone lines themselves that are undergoing a VoIP revolution. The technology itself sits within the cloud, allowing businesses to take advantage of a whole host of features and functionalities via tools like Cisco Webex. 

So workers can take part in multi-party conference calls, secure file sharing and collaboration in virtual team spaces, alongside being able to handle calls from customers around the globe. 

Better still, a single cloud-based communication network means that no matter where they are, everyone from colleagues to clients are now part of the conversation. 

Whether they’re using their mobile devices to join video calls or access collaborative projects through tools like Microsoft Teams, instant, productive collaboration has never been easier.

How does VoIP work?

Traditional phone networks use physical switches in ‘exchanges’ to connect landlines. But VoIP digitises your voice into small packets of information and sends it down a broadband connection – just like your emails. 

When the packets reach the other person’s device, they’re reassembled to provide the information they’re carrying, i.e. your voice. 

How could you use VoIP?

There are two ways to get VoIP into your business. And the good news is that you’ve probably already got most of the kit. A smartphone might be, for instance, your key component – just download the right app. 

For laptops and tablets you might also want to plug in some headphones. But most modern devices are capable of being used for VoIP, and cloud phones are also available. 

Whatever kit you use, there are two basic ‘flavours’ of solution:

1. Go Cloud-based

If you pay a monthly fee, you can ‘rent’ the service and all the technical stuff will happen in someone else’s big, well-maintained server farm, leaving the techy bits to people who specialise in that type of thing. 

This option is brilliant for small businesses that want all the advantages of a cloud voice solution (unparalleled mobility and instant collaboration, for example) but don’t want or need all the hassle and hardware that go with maintaining a cloud server on site. 

2. Keep it in the office

Some people prefer more control and decide to buy and keep the servers at their own offices, which means upfront costs increase and you need to do the tech support and maintenance yourself. 

This is called SIP Trunking, and it just replaces your copper telephone wires with the internet, making the most of your existing network investment. 

Anything else to know?

That’s about it. But do bear in mind that the speed of your connection is a factor. The faster it is, the clearer and smoother your calls will be. That’s why lots of people turn to their broadband provider for a VoIP solution. 

We’re here to guide you through the process and make sure you’ve got the right set-up to empower your people in today’s hybrid working world. 

Want to know more about VoIP and how it can support hybrid working?