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“What we find challenging in the UK with our switch off right now is clear communication of what is actually being turned off and what services will be impacted

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Hi there. I’m here in Germany in Hoff with my colleague, Thomas Shroeder, So thanks very much for the invite, and I’m here to talk about the PSTN switch off in Germany, which actually happened way back in twenty eighteen and how it went for them. So good morning, Thomas. How are you?

Good. Good. And happy to pleasure to help you here in in Germany.

Excellent. Thanks. Well, As you know, the UK is going through a very interesting period of time right now. We’re going through our own PSTN switch off and we know that you’ve already gone through this journey. So I was wondering, would you be able to give us an overview of the German switch off that happened way back in twenty eighteen and, you know, what was your experience and was it similar to the UK?

Yeah. In general, it’s a very comparable situation despite it’s on different dates but in general, the PSTN Network in Germany was primarily used for, for phone lines as it is in the UK as well. And, yeah, special or the similar thing also the the way of communication very early in in the market, to to yeah, prepare our customers, free four years before it already happened. So that’s similar situations, I think.

Wow. And, you know, what what was kind of the experiences, you know, to do what went well and what didn’t go so well from your experiences there.

Yeah. In general, that that information point, to to the end customers and also to our channel partners, went very well, the, that, yeah, more negative thing was customers are acting in in in in the last moment. So, at that day, don’t, don’t take it serious when we form the first point where they get the information from from us as a as a provider that they have to act in in in their telecommunication system.

That that that’s a thing what what could went better, in general. Yeah.

Right. So, so you add companies who they maybe left things to the last minute.

Although there was communications out there, they didn’t really act on it.

Under understandable.

We we have a, yeah, economic environment, which is challenging all over Europe and and obviously, the the telecommunication part is not the core business of every every business customer.

That that’s no matter in Germany or or in UK, and and all all companies have have to cover lots, lots of things.

And and maybe it’s, yeah, stressful to to to get the, yeah, to do such a project additional to your, you know, daily work No, that’s great.

I think what we find challenging in the UK with our switch off right now is clear communication of what is actually being turned off and what services will be impacted and translating that to to business people who are running their business in livelihood on So, it sounds like there was maybe some similarities there anyway.

So Yeah, especially when when it’s not not the core business thing, not not not every, want us a, yeah, absolute expert into the communication things and and and that that’s a key part of every business, but but not everyone knows what he’s using anyway.

So, phone lines, to be covered and are also emergency services or, yeah, alarm systems for, for elevators or or fire alarms. That that’s sort of basic things which not everyone, can can cover that that is, connected to to all PSTN network.

But there there are solutions for that to if the the the PCN network is switched off to to, yeah, use that or then with a mobile, approach or or with a yeah. Internet approach.

That’s great to hear because that is actually something that commonly comes up when we’re having these discussions now. So specialized emergency services equipment such as alarms, and fire alarms, which always used to be connected to the PSTN network, which meant it was always on So you’re saying that you found solutions for them, in Germany and they’re primarily mobile network solutions, are they?

Or Well, most of them, truly are a mobile network, for us. So maybe that is always a case of redundancy in in in this case because it’s a very crucial, especially for fire alarm or general alarm systems.

They they work on on SIP network as well, and then as an redundancy on on on business mobile network. And that that’s that’s the thing you have to care about very early.

Otherwise, you lose time when when you wait until the last moment, you you you may not get the the right solution for for your business.

Understands and planning’s key, but I guess the, the key message I’m taking from this is there is a world after the PST Ed where these services can continue and can maintain their cality.

So for all of these scenarios that there are solutions in the in the market.

We could could do better on on on, yeah, providing all of the these solutions, obviously, but but for every situation, there is a solution.

Yeah, and and they’ll advise from from from our side would be to act early. Otherwise, you you choose for second or third best option or for any kind of quick and early solution, just just to cover these things up.

Rushing at the last minute to put something in. That’s that’s really great. So I guess the, the landscape, the tech, the whole technology landscape looked very different back in twenty eighteen. I mean, it’s, it doesn’t seem that long ago, but it it is quite quite significant amount of change that’s been driven in in the in the technology space right now with the the the kind of the advances of UCaaS, especially with huge growth in the market. Now back in twenty eighteen, it was a different world.

But did you see any drive of new technology in the market? I mean, how within the UK, we’re seeing the PSTN switch off act as almost like an ignition to change from your legacy PBX, and consider some sort of cloud environment. Yeah. But how did that affect Germany at this time?

Mark situations were were a little bit different compared to the today.

Yeah, dominant was was a switch from from from PSTN, phone lines into the SIP world because of the lack of market development and especially in Germany as well. But if the solutions, back in the time have been there that there would be a lot of customers choose for for UCas solutions, especially for for their customer experience. When when they want to change something on there to the communication or getting in touch with with your customers is key for for every business in this world. And and Yeah. That that’s that’s a moment where you can choose for future proof, product or communication set for for your company or for just staying with that setup you have already.

So And what did you see a lot of businesses do?

Did they stay with the current setup and adapt it to the new world that was coming with the PSTN lines switched PSTN lines being switched off and having to consume things like SIP telephony, the day change their legacy phone systems or did they convert them?

We saw most of our customers staying with their system but that was more or less because they waited until the the last time. So a lot of them, wished that they have had acted earlier in that case.

Yeah, but that’s that’s a matter of timing to to to change for from from phone line on on on PSTN network to UCaaS in every business, nearly a project over a couple of months. And and when you don’t have the time, especially, you know, there’s the end of service date, and and it’s not not a date just for promotional reasons from from telco providers. So there’s a real end of service and and you you got into the risk to to lose your your tech communication completely so on that.

It’s a very big risk, isn’t it? I mean, this service is being switched off, and then you have to make the move. So that’s really interesting. Now. So a lot of them have waited and adapted their technology set. So I guess that presents another transformation point within the, within the German market where people will go through another transformation. So it feels almost a little bit different to the market conditions in the UK where the the German companies have gone through one transition on their telephony network at the external side, and maybe they will never face a second transformation, with their on premises equipment into something a bit more flexible and adaptable.

That’s exactly the way we we expect in the market to move forward in the next twenty four months and to have a second adoption to a new technology approach which also was PSTN to SIP. But also now then switching communications set up from from SIP to to UCaaS solutions.

Very interesting. Yeah. So it’s going to be exciting things in Germany for the next twenty four months. So I guess, going back to that, that, that big event, the switch off, what was the the reaction and how was it adopted from, say, the direct customers and the channel partner? We already heard that some customers left it to the last minute I did say your channel partners because you work with a wide range of extremely excellent companies and, here here in Germany across all the regions, So how did they they react to it and how did they help their customers make the transition?

Yeah. We do ninety percent of our business throughout indirect sales with channel partners, and we we took on this journey. We we took them with us and and not just communicating directly to the customer. We also communicated to to channel as well.

Saying you you have the the these amount of of customers in in in in your in your stack. You have to do something with with them, but also feedback from from channel partners was, so a busy environment, especially for IT system houses, they have full order books, and and then and, trying to to cover also the the the existing customers and and giving them, advice in changing. It was it was challenging but it’s very important also for the channel partners to to to to save their customers, giving giving them good advice and and and good relationship feeling to move on with them.

I’m I’m starting to hear a trend though, which is that if, if we wanted to maximize the transition, it’s about planning early so that nothing all piles up to the last moment and you have to make quick rash decisions. I mean, and on that, I guess, if you were to go through this journey again, knowing now, knowing then, sorry, what you know now, what would you do differently and how would you approach definitely efforts.

We we we would make change the the the way we we we communicating with our, our customers in China. It was in in the beginning. It was a very kind of friendly way. I’m not sure if this right expression, but but to to make both channel partners and customers very clear that there there is no no no room for negotiation or or that’s also not a promotional thing that we just want to move them into a product category, which is better for us. So it is, in fact, a technical switch of where they have to act. And that must be clear from the very first first point of contact with a customer. Right.

Clarity of message and this is not it. This is not an option. It’s happening and we were doing this for your own benefit to help and advise and guide you because that’s really great. And it’s that similar to the advice that you would give to to someone say in the UK like myself who as part of an organization, who’s helping others go through this transition. I mean, what would be your best words of advice? So to be just being clear and getting the timelines right?

Yeah. Do do it early and and and and make yourself aware what’s the way of communicating you want with your customers in the future, and that’s the best way to to set up the next steps, what to act? Which solutions do you want to have? Do you want a UCaaS solution you want a third party, you know, set up for for your communication system, or do you want to stay with with the setup you have and and just substituting, some some little parts, into the new SIP world.

Okay. Really great. So we just engage with the customers is the main thing and help guide them through their their options. Okay?

That’s a great advice. Thank you. I will definitely take that on board. And you know, after the switch off has happened, Are you seeing any, any good positive effects, or negative effects, is there anything that’s come out of it as a result?

I don’t see any negatives. The the positive way is that there’s when there’s something different changing in the market now, the the awareness for for, from the customers is higher than than before, because some of them really lost their service.

And and there was was something you heard through throughout the market on, on, and, yeah, that that now if something changing in the market, they’re acting. And then I would say more more or open to to new solutions, for for their business, but that’s also, yeah, predominant now, with Microsoft teams and and our other scenarios which came up in in in COVID times was was normal. It was a movement, which we’ve seen all over the world. So maybe open more to to remote working situations and and changing communication also within companies.

Sure. Okay. I mean, It’s a really interesting viewpoint. I guess, not sure if we can directly correlate that to the PSTN switch off, but everybody’s mindset has changed significantly over the last few years, hasn’t it? So, but now that’s been really great advice and thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me about that. And, yeah, so thanks very much for all of you who’ve joined the podcast today. Hope you find it very interesting and informative, and we’ll hope to speak to you again on the next one.