Technological advances have had a dramatic impact on the way the world operates. All those miles of copper cables and telephone wires have given us the ability to chat to each other over landlines for generations, but not for much longer. Still, one of the biggest shake-ups on the horizon is the total switch-off of the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) in 2025.
Farewell to Analog Technology
Analog network technology is too expensive and difficult to maintain, and beyond that, it’s simply incompatible with the varied demands of modern communications. The future is in digital communication, with calls using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) being routed over fiber-optic lines, cellular connectivity such as 4G, or even increasingly using low power wide area networks (LPWAN).
The problem, however, is that this change doesn’t just impact traditional landlines making voice calls. Many non-voice services currently use the PSTN network, such as faxes, alarms, door entry, and elevators. A new, secure, reliable, and easily installed solution is needed for all of these adjacent technologies. With the switch-off date, looming companies need to take action now. What some might see as a logistical headache is an opportunity for companies to move from the currently fundamental technology to a far more efficient and reliable solution with enhanced performance.
Which Sectors are Going to be Most Affected by the PSTN Switch Off?
PSTN plays a crucial role in the utility sector and particularly the water industry by connecting remote outstations, communicating telemetry data, and providing monitoring systems. Water companies are now identifying which solution providers can deliver the best value and innovative solutions for their future site communication needs. Switching away from PSTN requires a significant capital investment. They understandably want to maximize their return by gaining new capabilities such as detailed analytics through cloud applications while meeting their future regulatory objectives.
The legislation mandates that every lift in the U.K. and Europe has to have some form of emergency communications line in the elevator industry. Historically these S.O.S. voice calls were made via cables connected to the PSTN, but any lift systems still using this legacy technology must deploy an alternative communication method by 2025.
Cellular Connectivity is the Best Solution
Cellular connectivity is the simplest, easiest, and fastest solution to deploy to these elevators, offering reliable, always-on connectivity for emergency communication from the lifts 24/7 through roaming or dual SIM solutions.
Companies are also more commonly installing CCTV cameras in their lifts to monitor real-time events such as medical emergencies or assaults. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), companies can access two-way data transmissions directly through an encrypted 4G connection for secure remote monitoring, an added benefit of the change.
The infrastructure can also be monitored and maintained over the network even in remote locations, reducing the number of on-site lift maintenance checks and saving money on expensive engineers, equipment, and transport.
One Step Further with LTE-M Rollout
In the future, emerging cellular technologies like LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines) have the potential to provide superior penetration into buildings, supporting low-data applications and optimizing deployment and ongoing costs.
Cellular connectivity certainly feels like a suitable replacement for PSTN connections, and this was the recommendation of the Lift and Escalator Industry Association in their press release from November 2019, which discussed the benefits of using GSM mobile networks.
Before proceeding with the switch over, solutions providers must make sure that they choose the best connectivity partner for the job. They need experts who can quickly and easily deploy this technology at scale. To manage thousands of lifts internationally, they must feel confident that their new solution will connect seamlessly to multiple mobile networks and that those connections will be secure, reliable, and easily managed through one integrated platform.