The Big Switch Off 2027

The Big Switch Off 2027: The date change and what it means for your business

By now you are most likely aware of ‘The Big Switch Off’, also called ‘The Landline Switch Off’. In short, the technology behind landline phones as we know them is changing. Traditional landlines will be turned off and replaced by internet enabled (IP) telephony.

The Big Switch Off was originally scheduled to be completed in 2025, but in May 2024, Openreach delayed the completion date until 2027. This delay has been welcomed by many – including businesses who were yet to move their telephony or prepare for the Big Switch Off.

We’ve had a lot organisations asking us why the date has changed and what it means for businesses that are yet to move. We’ll answer these questions and help you get ready for the Big Switch Off below.

What is the Big Switch Off?

The Big Switch Off marks a change in the way the UK’s telephone system works. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) have long served as the foundation of the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure – this is what we know as ‘landline calling’. However, technological advancements mean that these systems are now considered to be outdated. Consequently, they will be permanently switched off and replaced by internet enabled telephony, i.e ‘The Big Switch Off’. This change affects everybody – and, yes, we do mean everybody.

Wasn’t the Big Switch Off meant to be in 2025?!

Yes – it has been announced that The Big Switch Off, instead of being complete by December 2025, will now be completed by January 2027.

Why has the Big Switch off been postponed?

It’s been postponed due to concerns about personal telecare devices, because it’s not just our phones that need to change, it’s everything that uses our landlines as well. It is estimated that nearly two million people in the UK use telecare devices which allow vulnerable people to get help in an emergency. These devices are reliant on a telephone connection and don’t always work effectively with internet enabled telephony.

The impact of the Switch Off on telecare devices was raised as a concern a while ago, prompting telephony providers to sign a charter stating that they would not move vulnerable customers over to internet enabled telephony until they were confident they were protected. Postponing the Switch Off means that there is time for telecare providers to ensure their devices’ compatibility with internet telephony, and provides reassurance to vulnerable people and their loved ones.

My business uses a security alarm – will that still work?

Following the issues around telecare devices, some businesses have raised concerns about security alarms that are reliant on landline systems in much the same way. However, the majority of business-grade internet enabled telephony providers will have provisions in place to support these alarms.

What impact does the delay have on my businesses?

The postponement of The Big Switch Off will have a very minimal impact on businesses. It predominantly affects, and is for the benefit of, vulnerable people. For everyone else, it seems as though the landlines will switch over as planned. This also means that the delay doesn’t give businesses any extra time to prepare – which we think a few unprepared businesses were hoping for!

My business isn’t prepared for the Switch Off yet. What’s your advice?

  • Preparation is key. The earlier you’re prepared, the easier the transition will be.
  • Understand your options and the solutions available.
  • Take your time. Yes – we know this sounds counterintuitive considering there’s a looming deadline, but you really want to make sure you’re switching to a telephony solution that is the right choice for your business. You don’t want to rush into the decision making process only to realise a few months in that your chosen solution isn’t suitable.

What are my business’s options?

You can enable internet telephony in two ways: SIP Trunking or a Hosted Phone System. These are both ways to make calls over the internet, but they have some differences in how they are set up and how they work.

SIP Trunking uses something called Session Initiation Protocol to connect your on-site PBX (i.e your phone server in your office) to your internet connection. This way, the SIP Trunk and internet connection work together to allow you to make and receive calls using your PBX server. This option is only suitable for organisations that already have an onsite PBX server that they want to keep. It’s also worth noting whilst this seems the easy and logical option, you’ll have to change at some point so it’s delaying the inevitable.

A Hosted Phone System is a solution that is based entirely in the Cloud. With Hosted Telephony you can make calls from anywhere, using any device that has an internet connection – Laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet. This option is especially well suited to organisations that have hybrid or remote working environments, or work on multiple devices.

There are a lot of different products out there, so we recommend talking to an experienced and trusted telephony provider (…like us ⁠Wink ) to help you make your decision.

What are the benefits of The Big Switch Off?

The Big Switch Off is happening for a reason – it brings loads of benefits!

  • Cost Savings: Unlike traditional phones that require significant upfront infrastructure investment, Hosted Telephony operates on a per-user, per-month payment model. This scalability makes it more cost-effective overall. If you opt for SIP Trunking, you can leverage your existing onsite equipment, maximising your initial investment.
  • Reliability: Hosted Telephony solutions are more reliable than traditional landlines because they are Cloud-based. In case of server issues, the system seamlessly switches to another server. Additionally, business grade solutions will include server backup and disaster recovery features for added peace of mind.
  • Enhanced functionality: Whilst landline phones were limited to voice calls, Hosted Telephony solutions offer a comprehensive suite of features. You can make the most of video calls, group conferencing, call rerouting when you’re busy, sophisticated reporting for business intelligence, instant messaging, calendar integration, and integration with your other business systems.

Next Steps

Like we said earlier, research your options and get in touch with a trusted and experienced telephony provider for advice. Once you’ve got a grasp of what’s out there and which solution you’d like, your chosen supplier will do an audit of your current system before designing your new system with you. A proof of concept or trial period is recommended next so you have hands on experience of your new system and the confidence that it is the correct choice for your business. Once you’re happy and any teething problems have been sorted, your supplier will switch you over with very minimal downtime, and your business is ready for the Big Switch Off!

Key dates

  • November 2017. BT Openreach announces The Big Switch Off.
  • December 2020. Salisbury Stop Sell. The first area of the UK has a stop sell meaning people in this area can no longer buy new landline services.
  • September 2023. UK Wide Stop Sell. Nobody in the UK can buy new landline services. All new telephony system purchases have to be IP enabled.
  • May 2024. Openreach move the UK Wide End of Life for Landlines to December 2027.
  • December 2025. UK Wide End of Life for landlines, i.e The Big Switch Off.
  • January 2027. UK Wide End of Life for Landlines, i.e The Big Switch Off.