What can we learn from the Great German Switch Off?

If you haven’t heard, there is going to be a big switch off in 2025. So big, that it has its own name. The Great British Switch Off. It involves the gradual deactivation of BT’s Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) between now and 2025. We’ve talked about this extensively, chiefly because there are still a great many businesses that have yet to take the necessary steps to upgrade and protect their networks and also take advantage of the huge opportunities offered by this generational change.

The German Experience

As hard as it may seem to predict the impact of the switch off on UK businesses, the simple fact is that we have a perfect case study close to home thanks to the experience of Germany which underwent its own switch off in 2018. With a similar size of network servicing in excess of 80m people, the lessons learned there are very applicable to the UK market. Crucially there are some critical do’s and don’ts that came out of their experience. And with an extensive presence in Germany, Firstcom Europe is exceptional well placed to gain a understanding of the necessary learning. Here’s what came out of that experience.

  • 1. Don’t leave things too late. As tempting as it might seem to think this is a issue that can be kicked into next year, the key learning from the Germany experience was that too many businesses left things too late and service levels suffered as a result
  • 2. Understand fully what the switch off affects in your business. It’s not as simple as thinking it only affects your phone lines. To some extent the feeling of our German colleagues was that this element of change wasn’t communicated effectively enough.
  • Embrace the opportunity. Businesses in Germany were initially slow to understand the opporunities offered by the transition to a new digital platform. To a certain extent this played into the first point of leaving things so late it became more about crisis management than exploitation of the opportunity. Arguably it has taken the interveening half decade to really embrace the change and fully realise the benefits of the upgrade.

To summarise, the sooner the better, seems to be the message coming from Germany following their own switch off. At Firstcom that institutional knowledge gained from our German cousins leaves us perfectly placed to ensure clients not only prepare for the switch off, but maximise the opportunity offereed.