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What's happening with UK phones?

2025 Phone Switch OffUK phone lines are changing. The latest plan is to shut down the current analogue phone service by 2025 and replace it with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). This unclear but ambitious plan means there are many communications companies causing a level of confusion in the market place resulting in many users paying more and/or having services they may not need. Therefore, I advise that, before you get into any telephone or broadband related conversation it would be beneficial to have a basic idea of what is going on and to know about the options.

What if I do nothing?

From clients I've spoken too recently, it seems that phone charges are going up considerably if you're out of contact. The Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on repairs have also changed, so basically repairs will take longer, and with the reduced maintenance, these problems can only get worse. There are also rumours that if the migration is behind schedule, they may just give you a new landline number rather than migrate your old one.

Is it actually that complex?

VoIP Auto Attendant Call FlowIt doesn't have to be. If you run a business, then you may already have a website, you may also have your own email setup - in which case, this will all make some sense. Phone calls are going to become just another "data service", and so can be thought of in a similar way to websites and email services. If you own a domain name, then you can point that domain name to any web designer or hosting company you wish, and you can do exactly the same with email. If you own your telephone number, then you will be able to point that number to any telephone company you want - you've already been doing this for years with mobile phones. Obviously, your current telephone company doesn't want you to know this as they want to keep your business - hence why they are keen to sell you a bundled broadband and phone contract. For example, both BT and Vodafone will provide you with a new phone handset that only works with their router, which in turn only works with their broadband, giving you zero choice - welcome back to the early days of mobile phone contracts and network locked handsets.

VoIPfone ITSPIn a similar way to purchasing or transferring a domain name, you need to "port" your existing landline number over to a service that's under your control. The key thing is that you decide who this company is. I personally use voipfone.co.uk as they are UK based, offer a good service and a range of add on features - without a contract. (the weblink shows 'Compuco' in Blackfield, as I'm not VAT Registered, so I work with Dean to provide these VoIP & broadband services)

Once you have control of your landline number, you can then decide on which devices and services you require. You may just want to setup a voicemail to email service, you may want to purchase a physical desk phone or you may just want to run an app on your normal mobile, the choice is yours. You may equally want to setup multiple extensions, add an auto attendant to answer calls, and be able to transfer calls between handsets on different sites - it's all possible, but may not be offered by your provider - ask them.

For me, the best features of VoIP are the ability to have a handset at home (for when working from home) and to have inbound landline calls arrive on your mobile for no extra charge.

If you're just starting to look at VoIP, or are receiving calls from potential phone suppliers - now is the time to consider exactly what you want, rather than listen to what they want to sell you. The main goals should be to secure yourself a decent internet connection, and to secure your landline number for the future - the solutions to these two objectives may not necessarily be provided by same people.

Is it really that bad?

Is your old phone a dinosaurIf you just want a single phone, and are happy to ignore many of the potential benefits of switching to VoIP, then you will probably be fine. However, if you were interested in lowering your call costs, having a choice of handsets (say for visually impaired users) or wanted an extension at another location, then you'll probably be disappointed in the upgrades being offered by your current phone company.

In reality the "upgrade" to VoIP is non-negotiable, so why not look at the potential benefits offered by the technology? If you want to discuss what VoIP can really do for you and your business, please get in touch.

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