There is a lot changing in the coming years with the Telecoms Infrastructure, Emergency Services are moving to 4G, Personal Number ranges will hit tabloid scrutiny, impacting businesses that advertise mobile telephone numbers, PSTN network is going and cybercrime within Telecoms will be made substantially easier, yielding benefits from increased access to Toll Fraud to corporate espionage.

We have documented a lot of this on our website, but HERE we will give you our favourite highlights that will impact small businesses, including freelancers, as well as residential consumers, focusing on the negatives that if not handled properly, could see your building robbed, your customer not wanting to call you or a massive expense for something you didn’t need.

1.Personal Number Ranges Coming Under Scrutiny

At the time of writing (March 2019), Ofcom has concluded a change to PN ranges that will impact people that advertise mobile numbers, but not in the way you may think.

PN number ranges start 070, they look like mobile numbers, but essentially a provider of these services can write their own ticket for what the cost is. These numbers are associated with “Bill Shock”, this is where a consumer thinks they are dialling a mobile number, but when their bill comes through it can be astronomical in price.

If you are using an 070 number, then you may want to consider getting ahead of the announcements and moving to a normal mobile number, or even a landline number.

However, if you are using a mobile number, the way modern day press works it may very well be the case that you are thrown into the same bundle as these premium numbers, that customers know there is an issue, but don’t fully understand what it is, and they then become wary of calling any mobile looking number that belongs to a business.

You may want to get ahead of this issue, either with a caption below the mobile number along the lines of “Normal Mobile Rates apply…” or consider advertising landline numbers or trusted Non-Geographical numbers.

The regulation changes from Ofcom are due to take effect from October 2019, which means it could very well end up in the press anytime from now (March 2019).

2. PSTN Switch off from 2020

One to be careful of, the switch of the PSTN network, which carries traditional phone lines, will NOT be turning off in 2020, in fact, the only known date this will be turning off is 2025, but this isn’t stopping Telecoms companies from capitalising.

Known Timeline

2020 – PSTN becomes legacy, this means that you cannot order new analogue or ISDN phone lines.

2025 – PSTN Network is due to be turned off.

These are the only confirmed dates we have seen, but that has not stopped some companies from making up their own, including BT Local, which is the franchise off shoot from BT.

There is also NO SCENARIO where you need to replace or change your existing equipment, but you may need an “Additional Box” in order to make your existing equipment work.

For the Business side, we have prepared an in-depth article you can find here, for different scenarios you may have, what you need to consider

For the residential side, it is easier to understand what is changing at a high level, and also easier to see what impacts there will be, especially to older people, we have prepared several articles for this here

An instructional video here, looking at how things can work going forward, we also take a look at emergency services moving to 4G and how that could work in our favour, or leave us without communications in a power cut.

As we are starting to see, Brexit is distracting politicians from day to day running of this country, currently they don’t seem to have considered this or any other point in this blog in parliament, the PSTN network is based on technology that has been in development for over 150 years, it’s not something you can turn off lightly, so we have a petition here to bring attention to this in the House of Commons.

3. Rise In Cyber Crime From 2020

When the PSTN network goes and we shift to VoIP, it will now be substantially easier to commit toll fraud (This is where I forward your calls to a different number, often an international premium rate number, then rack up your bill) and listening into landline telephone calls.

Toll Fraud – Traditionally this issue would impact phone systems, as that was the most likely way to achieve the goal, going forward however, every end point will have an associated user account, accessible online, most of which contain the functionality of call forwarding, as do a lot of Voicemail portals for phones (Phone Hacking Scandal), which means every residential user, and every individual in a business can be exposed to Toll Fraud, as opposed to an individual telephone system.

Location is irrelevant, as is the VoIP service that you use.

Call Listen – This can now be achieved easily from the comfort of your own home, cyber criminals will have the ability to listen to phone calls made from any location in the world, it is a lot easier than you may think. This includes residential premises, businesses, and opens up a world to corporate espionage that will effectively be a new Cyber Crime potential that to date has not existed, at least not on this scale.

You can see more information about how both these crimes are committed in this video

4. Transition of Cyber Crime back to Real World Crime

This is not strictly telecoms, but it is enabled from a mobile device.

I am currently in the process of building out an application, which I term “my little Crime Helper”, to demonstrate at a cybercrime seminar later this year.

It utilises tracking information from mobile phone apps, search history stored on cloud accounts (like google accounts, that is where your search history and browser history is stored now), in order to predict the best times to commit real world crimes, from burglary, to stalking and even abduction and murder.

You can see a demo of Phase 1 in this video, which shows you how simple it is to put together, phase 3 will be the full app and where the scary stuff happens!

5. Emergency Services moving to 4G

The impact to business and residential could be obsolete, or it could provide a working infrastructure long term during power outages that everyone can benefit from.

The main risk here is that this has not really come up for discussion in the House of Commons, all queries I have raised with the Home office have been ignored, so finding exactly what the change from Airwave to EE 4G entails is very difficult to ascertain.

Potential Benefits – If the Cell towers get the same power contingency as Airwave, then we will see a potential service that can run 7 days uninterrupted. At which point our considerations are Laptop, 4G Router and Mobile devices/ Desk phone batteries (They can all function over a 4G router).

However, it is not clear how the equipment will function when/if battery backup units kick in, it could restrict all services for Emergency services only and 999 calls in order to preserve battery life, or it could be available for everyone. I can’t find information on this, and the Home Office has been unable to clarify.

Potential Drawbacks – When the PSTN network goes, we lose the ability to have uninterrupted services on a landline, this is due to the power consumption requirements of every part of the chain, the Router, Analogue Gateways, Street Cabinets will all require power for the majority of services.

If the 4G change to EE does not benefit us by allowing continuous service, we may find that in the event of a power cut, both businesses and residential services can only operate, at most, for 4 hours. But more likely for 1 hour.

While the Telecoms Landscape is a bit of doom and gloom, we have prepared another article looking at broadband technology changes, which looks a little bit more positive.

Take it easy, and I will post towards the end of this year with any interesting updates in the world of communications.

Tom Jam

Blog Post Authored By Tom Jam

Thrace Enterprises Ltd has three main aims

  1. Helping small businesses and Individuals grow
  2. Providing Services – Automation, Testing, Analyses, Development
  3. Training, E-Learning and Education.

You can see more about what we do on this link

Tom Jam is the Director of Thrace Enterprises Ltd, has worked within the Telecoms, Insurance and eCommerce industries assuming multiple roles within the software delivery cycle, interchangeable as needed from software testing, business analyses, project management, automation, development and training (In UK and Abroad including China, South Africa, Australia and USA) and is adept at working in varying environments, cultures and industries.

He can work face to face in the UK, but is adept at working remotely for both UK and International companies and can be contacted at tom@thrace-enterprises.com

As well as offering these services, he is currently building out free resources, educational content and free tools for small businesses, details of which can be found on this page