Time to get your telecoms ducks in a row

From a business perspective, 2022 was challenging to say the least. With rising energy costs, rampant inflation and turmoil in many supply chains, it’s safe to say that most businesses have started 2023 with trepidation.

Sadly, the months ahead look equally challenging with the threat of recession and overall slowdown hanging over us still. Nonetheless, businesses can’t afford to sit still. Focus on productivity improvements, cost savings and wherever possible, look to leverage all available resources. There are also some key areas to consider from a telecoms and technology point of view.

2025 switch-off

Just in case you are in a minority of people who haven’t heard the news, 2025 sees the end of traditional phone networks. The PSTN network switch off will affect all analogue and ISDN lines and reality will kick in this year as telephone exchange stop sells begin to impact product availability. As of 2025, we’ll all be using IP phone services. And whilst many businesses have already successfully made the move to all-IP, there are many who haven’t yet started planning. These businesses need to take action now and get a strategy in place to migrate their analogue and ISDN services in order to start enjoying the many benefits of a cloud-based phone system.

Remember, with many employees now working remotely, their day-to-day job could be negatively impacted when regular tools and equipment become obsolete post switch-off. There will be increased pressure on Openreach to accelerate the roll out of FTTP full fibre here but plan in advance and don’t wait until the last minute.

Batten down the hatches

Security is always on the agenda – cybercriminals do not give up easily. Moving forwards, managed cloud security services should be on your radar. With a boom in IoT devices and an increasingly remote workforce, the number of entry points to company networks will increase – more points of access equals more opportunity for cyberthieves. Cloud security services can provide centralised control for mobile and fixed line, web filtering, email, access management, zero-trust networks and speedy deployment of security features and patches. Be sure to take a look at secure private WAN networks – your provider will have a much wider choice in connectivity solutions with the ability to offer both fixed fibre and mobile data technologies to bring other cloud platforms ‘on-net(work)’.

Making WFH work

People (and businesses) have got used to working from home or at least, away from the office. Agile working looks likely to become normal for businesses with many suggesting an even split between the time spent working in the office versus working from home. This has technology implications – upgrading telephone and IT security systems to more cost effective cloud hosted solutions. This makes things easier to manage overall whilst also meeting the security challenges of a displaced workforce. With more and more people using VoIP technology in a home setting, it needs to be bulletproof for business use – call quality will be a key consideration for business decision makers. Home working will need dedicated data circuits along with appropriate security policies and measures in place.

Internet of things (IoT) and true 5G

When will 5G become the ‘standard’? 5G as we know it right now provides much faster radio access speeds through the use of 5G next generation nodes and cells, although predominantly still uses the 4G core network to manage connectivity, mobility and user authentication.  As more nodes are deployed, we will certainly see continued growth in the use of mobile data as a compelling alternative to fixed line fibre connections. The reality of 5G will be further boosted on the back of price reductions in 5G routers and equipment. The deployment of standalone 5G core networks (SA) will be key though in delivering further benefits, when cloud hosted core applications will provide far greater control via software defined mobile networks and can perhaps then be described as ‘true 5G’. IoT connected devices can drive significant productivity improvements, which will undoubtedly fuel their demand. It’s no secret that businesses require real time information and data to propel more accurate decision making – IoT can provide this.

Keen for Green

The clamour for climate change policy has never been so loud. With the likes of Extinction Rebellion highlighting the narrative, CEOs increasingly see environmental and social changes as prime motivators for investors. And IoT can help in this drive towards green. Companies looking to lower their carbon footprints, reduce energy consumption and reduce costs all provide a myriad of use cases which will accelerate the uptake of IoT. For example, smart building functionality which uses technology to monitor office capacity and switch off lights or manage heating more effectively in any unused work areas. Or smart sensors that can be added to plumbing systems to alert building managers regarding potential leaks that both prevent expensive water damage and save water.

Dom Norton, Director, Spitfire Network Services Ltd