Why the coming WLR withdrawal goes beyond ISDN phone lines

ISDN phone lines will have to be replaced by 2025. But these are not the only services set to be affected by the coming switch off.

By now, all businesses need to be aware that the UK’s communication networks are changing, and one of the most important milestones will be the switching off of the WLR, the UK’s legacy analogue phone network by the end of 2025.

The decision, made by network operator Openreach‘s parent firm BT Group, concerns the current Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is still in heavy use among many business users.

This will affect a wide range of communications products – specifically those under the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service. This is why you may see the switch-off referred to as the WLR withdrawal, as all products that use these services will be removed from sale by September 2023 in preparation for the move.

The impact on your communications

For most firms, the most obvious result of the switch-off will be that they will need to migrate their phone services. Many businesses currently run their voice communications using ISDN technology, which is one of the products being withdrawn. This will mean that firms must act now to migrate their phone lines to digital-only solutions, such as SIP Trunking and cloud-based VoIP telephony.

However, what many companies may not realise is that voice lines are far from the only communications service that are likely to be affected by the WLR withdrawal. In fact, many businesses – especially smaller firms – may still rely on their analogue phone lines for a wide range of other services, all of which will also need to be migrated before the 2025 deadline.

For example, one solution that may be particularly important to many small retailers is their point-of-sale machines. Many companies may still use analogue phone lines to connect their credit card machines and take payments. These will therefore have to be upgraded if firms are to continue doing this. 

Some firms have already reacted to this by moving such operations to IP-based systems, but for those that have been slow to modernise their technology, the clock is ticking to ensure they can seamlessly transition to more up-to-date solutions.

Understanding your key priorities

In order to ensure any migration to IP-based systems is successful, it will be vital for firms to conduct a full audit of their current communications environment to identify every service that still relies on these outdated, soon-to-be-withdrawn networks.

For instance, emergency systems are an area that it will be important to look at closely. This may cover fire and security alarms that connect buildings directly with emergency services, as well as help-point phones and emergency lift-lines that run on seperate circuits to primary communications networks. 

These will often have been installed separately in order to provide resilience in an emergency, so may be easy to overlook if companies are focused too closely on how their day-to-day operations will be affected.

Other services that may also be affected include door systems, vending machines and fax machines, all of which will also have to be upgraded or completely replaced if firms wish to continue using them.

It’s clear the implications of the WLR withdrawal will go far beyond voice communications, but many firms may find navigating the options available to them a daunting process, especially if they are dealing with systems they may not have seriously thought about in many years. 

That’s why it’s important to turn to an expert provider for advice and assistance in coping with what will be one of the biggest changes to the UK’s communications network in decades.

ISDN Switch off

Still unsure what the WLR withdrawal means for you? Download our white paper to learn more about the coming switch-off.

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