The 19th century called, it wants its phone system back
Recent Ofcom (UK communications regulator) data found that if business landline numbers continue to drop at their current rate, they will be all but extinct within just six years. But would this be a bad thing? The landline has enabled connectivity from 1876, so is it time for an upgrade? Here, Douglas Mulvihill, UK marketing manager at business phone system provider Ringover, explains why businesses should move on from the landline.
Landlines have been an office staple for decades, enabling communication, customer service and collaboration. However, as technology has evolved, more efficient tools have been created that help businesses to do everything that the landline offers, but in a more streamlined way.
The decline of the landline
The landline’s lifespan has been cut short by the announcement of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) switch off. The PSTN has formed a large part of the UK’s telephony infrastructure since its creation, but the rise in popularity of digital solutions has led BT to the decision to permanently switch it off from December 2025.
This means the businesses need to start thinking about what the future of their telephony system is going to look like, and voice over internet protocol (VoIP), is taking centre stage as the landline’s successor. VoIP phone systems have all the features of traditional landlines with the addition of some modern upgrades.
VoIP telephony transmits calls over the Internet, rather than phone lines, for almost instantaneous connectivity. By using the internet, it completely removes the reliance on the soon to be obsolete PSTN. But why is VoIP the future of business communications?
Ready for anything
VoIP phone systems don’t require any additional physical components beside the device, meaning the entire system is accessible from a mobile or browser application. No time is wasted on infrastructure installation and businesses can deploy their system rapidly, such as when onboarding new employees.
A landline is not a viable option for remote work. Employees need to be able to take calls from wherever they are working. Yes, the IT department could provision and reallocate numbers and install physical phonelines in employees’ homes, but when there is an entirely digital option, this is unnecessarily complex.
Globetrotting… from your desk
A common challenge for companies with a global footprint is how to make calls cost effectively. Making international calls from a landline typically results in astronomical charges, but VoIP offers the capability at a fraction of the price.
VoIP enables businesses to use virtual phone numbers, which, unlike traditional phone numbers, aren’t tied to a physical device. Businesses can give the appearance of being locally present in several countries from one system without actually having a base in any of them.
For businesses working across multiple time zones, automated smart routing ensures calls are diverted to employees working at the time of the call, in the relevant language and with the skillset to handle the query.
Work life balance enabler
How do landline based employees answer calls when away from their desk? They may be able to set a voicemail to direct people to their mobile, but does this approach promote a healthy work life balance?
While VoIP systems are accessible from an employee’s own device, they use a different phone number, creating a physical distinction between professional and personal life. However, this doesn’t mean that calls should go unanswered if one person is out of office.
VoIP enables group routing, where incoming calls are directed to relevant employees if the recipient is not available. It is possible to create groups according to expertise, working hours or language competencies. Calls are cascaded down these groups until an available employee answers, maintaining high quality service without putting employees under pressure to be available 24/7.
The landline has served us well, but with dramatic changes to working practices and the looming PSTN switch off, it’s time for an upgrade. With a VoIP phone system, employees benefit from all the features of the landline, but with a modern zing, facilitating international, balanced work for the future. 19th century? You can have your landline back.
To learn more about Ringover’s business communication solutions please visit Ringover.
The author is Douglas Mulvihill, UK marketing manager at business phone system provider Ringover.