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ISDN switch off: Don’t fall behind on your telecommunications software

Posted on 25th February 2020 at 15:51

You can be forgiven if the announcement by BT regarding the ISDN switch-off has slipped from your memory. The telecommunications provider, supplying around 27 million homes and businesses in the UK, declared in 2015 that it intended to stop selling ISDN services by 2020 and phase out the network entirely by 2025. BT has now extended the initial selling deadline to September 2023, giving nationwide customers more time to smoothen the transition.

Still not sure what this will mean for your business? Fear not, this article will help you understand what the communications landscape is going to look like in the post-ISDN UK…

What is ISDN?

For many telecommunication users, ISDN is all they’ve ever known. But this marks the start of a new kind of telecommunications landscape that we will all migrate to.

ISDN (or Integrated Service Digital Network) is a circuit-switched telephone network system that allows both voice and data services to be delivered over digital lines simultaneously.

BT launched the ISDN services in 1986, allowing it to move old fashioned landlines to digital. Due to the speeds at which the landlines were operated before ISDN, the upgrade allowed BT to vastly improve the speed of its service as well as offer better connections and even video communication. There was also much less risk of data being distorted, providing a better overall experience than the previous antiquated systems.

For a while, ISDN lines helped businesses streamline their communications infrastructure, but with vast advances in technology, the services have become outdated. Technology has evolved now so that solutions are available that don’t have line restrictions.

What will the replacements look like?

BT’s attention has focused more recently on the VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, which has therefore led to the eventual phase-out of ISDN. VoIP doesn’t use traditional landlines to make connections but instead takes the contemporary communication landscape into account by enabling both voice and video calls to be made on a global level, using just an internet connection.

VoIP has been adopted by many businesses for several reasons: calls are cheaper and the overall cost per minute of calls is lower than that of ISDN. The installation costs of ISDN telecommunications are generally more expensive due to the hardware required as well as the high cost of the equipment rental. Faults with ISDN are also generally a lot slower to fix.

With VoIP technology, faults in the system can typically be identified and repaired much more quickly. Additionally, installation is usually more rapid than ISDN line installation as well as being more convenient to the customer, given that the ‘physical’ lines do not need to be laid.

Another alternative is SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, a powerful and efficient communications protocol used to send multimedia messages to multiple parties, allowing people from all over the world to communicate over the internet using computers and mobile devices, wherever they are.

It’s quick to install and offers a robust business continuity service that ensures your business never loses any calls. SIP trunking provides a phone service that will cope with any situation and gives your business-grade resilience for your telephony. Whether you need to keep your business running in a disaster or emergency or you need to load balance your calls between sites during peak hours, SIP is an extremely effective solution.

We offer SIP trunks that are ideal for businesses with seasonal voice capacity requirements where more lines need to be quickly and easily implemented with no long-term commitments, for example when running sales campaigns or during major sports or entertainment events.

How to future proof your business

If you’re still one of the few million ISDN customers that still use the technology, you still have time to think about switching over. But although half a decade stands in between now and the eventual switch off, it’s advised that you begin the process of starting to plan and think about alternatives solutions now, so that your business gets a head start.

However, implementing change doesn’t have to be stressful. Outline a business spec that includes what your essentials are and some extra functions that will assist your business. With plenty of research, you will ensure any choice you make will be the best for your business. You will have to ensure that your current internet connection provides a stable enough bandwidth to be able to cope with the new network, however. Our team can provide expert advice on this and will be able to answer any of your questions.

Once you decide to move to a VoIP system or a hosted cloud network, the process is seamless. It may be possible to upgrade your existing system to SIP trunks, meaning you won’t even have to buy a new telephone system.

Luckily, setting up or migrating to VoIP or SIP is relatively straightforward for most businesses, so there’s no need to wait until 2025. If you want to make the switch away from ISDN well ahead of then, contact us to discuss how we can manage your businesses transition to a VoIP or SIP network, and start reaping the rewards today.

We can manage everything from moving your lines, your numbers and your hardware to VoIP or SIP, from installation, user training, through to on-going support.

Get in touch to find out more.

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