Back in 2017, BT announced it would be shutting down both its ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) and PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) networks in 2025, phasing them both out in favour of IP services. While this shake up might still be a few years away, it’s important that you and your business are prepared for the change and what comes next.
What is the ISDN shutdown?
When ISDN was first introduced to the UK in 1986, it replaced analogue telephone lines, and allowed for digital transmission of voice, video, and other data at the same time. Over time, though, ISDN hasn’t changed much, and has become outdated - it uses the same systems and design as the original phone lines from the 80s. The alternative is fibre broadband, and IP, or internet protocol, networks. They’re much faster, and not tied to physical locations in the same way that ISDN connections are.
As more people use cloud-based services, ISDN lines can no longer compete. There are more digital ways to communicate, and there’s been a huge demand for online communication tools in recent years. The use of tools such as Zoom, Teams, and Skype soared during the pandemic, something we have experience with. We offer a range of products to help businesses with remote working, including Microsoft Teams Direct Routing, essentially allowing our customers to use Teams as their phone system, making calls from any device or location.
Who is it going to affect
Although the switch off of ISDN is still a couple of years away, BT is set to stop selling new ISDN lines as early as 2023. By then, installing a new ISDN line won’t be conducive for companies as it will be rendered obsolete in two years. Instead, new customers will be using fully digital networks straight away. If you haven’t switched over already, you’ll need to start looking into finding new ways of staying connected to your clients and moving your systems to digital and fibre optic infrastructure instead of ISDN.
The companies most affected will be those who still regularly use fax machines and landline telephones. It’s not just phones that will be affected by the ISDN shutdown. Anything you use that’s connected to a phone line - from CCTV and card machines to door entry systems and alarms - could also be in trouble, and you’ll need to look into moving them over to a fully digital network instead.
What can you do to prepare?
To start with, you should take a look at your business and think about what your needs are. Do you still need fax machines, or are there newer, more future-proof technologies you could use? How many telephones do you need, or do you still need a fixed landline? What internet speed would best serve your organisation’s needs?
To prepare for the switch off, you should also take a closer look at the internet connection you currently have - will it be able to handle all your internet traffic and phone calls after 2025? You might want to upgrade to a fibre optic connection, to ensure you’re connected at all times, and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) is one example of how we can help with this. FTTP delivers broadband from the local exchange directly into your office premises, or your home. With low latency and a stable connection, you’ll be able to enjoy speeds of up to 1Gbps, or one gigabit per second.
If you’re planning on keeping the same phone numbers after the ISDN shutdown, then you’ll need to port all your numbers from your existing landline to an IP connection. It’s best to look into doing this now so you’re prepared, rather than hurrying to do it at the last possible minute - as, in some cases, the process can take up to 30 days.
How can we help
If your existing system is IP compatible, then you can easily replace your ISDN service with a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunk. This is virtual connection between your phone line and your private branch exchange will allow you to make and receive voice calls via an IP connection. However, if it’s not compatible with IP services, then you may need to replace your system entirely, or look into updating it with a cloud-based system instead. As well as being more up-to-date, a cloud-based system would be cheaper and more secure.
The move to digital voice services has been a long time coming, and will soon be essential. At Voiceflex, we offer SIP, as well as help our customers to switch over from using ISDN to using solely IP services. It’s easily scalable to the size of your business - if you grow, you can add to your network without having to install new physical telephone lines in your office.
An alternative to ISDN, and a direct replacement for PSTN, is SoGEA, or Single Order Generic Ethernet Access, which we offer in our IP Voice service. After the switch off, landlines will be obsolete, but with IP Voice you’ll be able to make a smooth transition from your landline to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). You can continue making high-quality calls - and we’d advise making the switch now. SoGEA is already widely available, but if you don’t know if it’s in your area yet, you can find out by visiting the Availability Checker on our website.
With the ISDN shutdown fast approaching, it’s important to start making sure your business is ready for the change as early as possible, and avoid any possible disruption to you and your customers. IP services can offer you better connections, and save you money - get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.