Business Change Case Studies

Preparing for the 2027 PSTN Switch-Off

Project Overview

Project Overview

The January 2027 PSTN Switch-Off will see Openreach switch off the ageing public switched telephone network (PSTN) across the UK. This old ‘copper’ analogue telephone network has over 12 million broadband and phone lines and 75 million miles of cables. Without digital replacements, connected phones and other devices will simply stop working.

Our rail infrastructure client has over 8,000 PSTN lines, providing power and communications to remote safety critical equipment such as signals, crossings, ticket machines, alarms and emergency phones. Migrating to digital alternatives is a huge effort, requiring a mindset shift to focus on future-proofing telecoms assets for the long term. Impacted colleagues needed to understand “what does this mean for me?” and “why should I care?”. To achieve this, the programme team needed to rapidly increase the programme’s profile, creating urgency across the network. However, the client’s 40,000 employees vary widely in their communication preferences; each of the 5 regions and 14 routes has unique local needs, with over 150 specialist stakeholders identified across 20 roles. 

On a complex, business-critical engagement, Afiniti were asked to execute a region and stakeholder specific engagement strategy and deliver materials to equip senior leaders at a local level to drive home the need for change. We leveraged large volumes of live data and deep stakeholder analysis to build ownership among key individuals, highlighting the effort and steps required for each region to successfully migrate from analogue to digital before the 2027 deadline. 

Our Solution

Our Solution

  • We facilitated workshops to develop a regional stakeholder segmentation and engagement strategy. Each stakeholder group, including Local Route Operational Managers, IT and Facilities Management, were assessed to agree the outcomes. Site visits were planned for regions requiring extra communication effort. We used principles such as ‘build responsibility’ and ‘be brief’ to adapt our communication between regional (Route Telecoms) or national stakeholder groups (IT, Facilities).
  • Our programme engagement strategy captured the team’s business outcomes and key messages, alongside compelling statistics about the scale of the migration, the risks of not acting, user journeys for regional and national teams and digital options for specific assets.
  • We redeveloped a stakeholder focused website to put site, route and regional data front and centre, with a national progress bar and regional dashboard to create urgency. We simplified and re-organised content, developed a new programme brand and created a ‘call to action’ video.
  • The client needed to survey sites to identify how devices were being used. To ensure engineers could gain access and mitigate delays to the programme, we developed an interactive survey guide and posters for front-line employees as well as a monthly newsflash.
  • Our migration engagement roadmap used a 5-stage model to apply ‘T-minus’ plans consistently across each use case project (for example ‘lifts and escalators’), to ensure users were consistently taken from vision to value while streamlining communication flow.
The Differences We Made

The Differences We Made

“What’s been great about working with Afiniti has been the ease with which they integrated into our team, the quality of the collateral they developed for us and the overall professionalism when dealing with a challenging and diverse group of stakeholders.”

– Senior Programme Manager
  • Our messaging has allowed thousands of local users to support the ongoing national survey effort to identify and assess devices and phone lines.
  • Our communication materials and support have created a simpler and more data-driven message increasing route and regional visibility and buy-in.
  • The programme team can now communicate independently, confidently targeting their message for each region using live statistics.
  • The PSTN programme has been recognised by senior leaders for the use of impactful and clear messages.
  • Our client is now in a great position to ramp up efforts on the PSTN Switch-Off throughout 2024.

Learn more about how you should address your PSTN Switch Off and see the range of work our rail consultants can support with.

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