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The Death Of ISDN

11 September 2015

So it has finally arrived!

After years of speculation, BT Openreach announced last week that ISDN is officially being retired in 2025.

Whilst that is a long way off, what should businesses and organisations being doing about it and when?

Well many of our customers have already made the change - changing from their tried and trusted ISDN2e or ISDN30 circuits to either a SIP trunk connection or a fully hosted phone system. Those are the 2 main options.

We suppose you could install analogue lines but that would be going back to the pre-1990 days!

What is ISDN?

ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network - it is essentially circuit switched technology and has been the main stay and go-to connection for any entity requiring more than one phone line in their business or organisation.

What is good about ISDN?

Well it's reasonably stable - but generally it is delivered on copper wiring so it can be open to faults from water ingress, wiring issues, interference and so on.

Why is ISDN being replaced?

It's old and not very functional. Whilst it delivers basics like caller ID, direct dial and diverts, it compares very poorly with SIP and hosted phone lines which are delivered on an internet connection.

What is so good about SIP and hosted VoIP?

As long as SIP or a hosted VoIP solution is delivered on a good internet connection, it is a better option than ISDN  - here are SOME reasons why:

  • Geography is irrelevant - you can use any number anywhere in the world - so when moving offices, you can normally keep your number regardless of where you are moving from and to (unlike ISDN where numbers are restricted to the local BT Exchange)
  • Once you have the internet connection working, adding more capacity (or reducing it) is more or less instant - in comparison, ISDN takes much longer and can often need an engineer visit (which sometimes results in long delays due to external wiring issues or lack of line plant)
  • Mobilty and resiliency- as SIP or hosted phone systems work on IP addresses, it is very easy to move connections anywhere in the world - this makes it very resilient - you can even set up resilient lines so that other connections can take over from connections with faults
  • SIP or hosted telephony tends to be cheaper than ISDN - of course we cannot speak for other suppliers but we don't charge for things like caller ID, Direct Dial numbers, caller divert, number presentation and so on
  • Also we offer (at the time of writing) free calls to UK landlines - we are also currenly offering free calls to UK mobiles (check availability with us please)
  • Number presentation - with ISDN it can be really difficult to send the correct outbound number with each call (for each user) in many situations - with SIP and hosted systems, (ours anyway) it is much easier and simpler and generally, you can send any number, including international numbers (there are a few limitations - please discuss with us)
  • As SIP or hosted telephony works on an internet connection, as long as it is designed correctly, you can use one (decent) connection for both Voice and normal internet connectivity. Discuss this with us.

When do I change from ISDN to SIP or hosted telephony?

Good question!

There's no time like the present!

Of course if you are under contract, you may be stuck where you are. But if not, we suggest you call us.

If you have an older phone system, it may not support SIP so you may have to upgrade. Or you might be more suited to a hosted phone system which has a lot of benefits and can be a really good option as the upfront costs can be low.

If you are spending reasonable money each month on calls, you should consider changing now as the savings could be substantial.

If you already have a good internet connection, that is useful - please speak to us.

What are the Pitfalls of VoIP and using SIP or hosted telephony?

Well if you are not dealing with a company who understands it, or someone that just wants your order, you can really head towards a disaster!

The main issue with installing an IP-based phone connection is connectivity.

You simply must have a good connection. If you are in a premises where internet connectivity is slow, unless it can be improved by installing a better connection, SIP and hosted VoIP should be avoided.

Whilst SIP and Hosted VoIP can be delivered on a conventional broadband (ADSL connection), it is NOT advisable to use the same connection for internet access unless it is fast and managed in such a way by the supplier that the voice can be prioritised.

So for most small businesses and organisations, as long as the connectivity availability is OK (which we will always check for you), you can normally install a broadband for this purpose (ours are managed so voice quality is guaranteed). You would then use a seperate broadband for internet and emails etc.

If the internet is MISSION CRITICAL to your business or organisation, we would normally recommend a better internet connection than standard ADSL broadband (such as FTTC Ethernet, EFM or a proper Fibre Ethernet connection wihich is fibre direct into your premises). See our comparison page - comparing internet connection types

As you can see, this is a complex subject - but we know it inside out and have 100's of customers using the technology - why not give us a call and ask to speak to Paul, Michael or Nick - 01892 676000.

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