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Get Ready for the ISDN Switch Off

By on 25th Sep 2019

Get Ready for the ISDN Swtich Off (1)

Have you heard people in your industry talking about ISDN? It’s an important technology infrastructure that’s due to be turned off, and that will affect a huge volume of businesses across the UK. 

Let’s get some clarity, we’re talking about telephony here, and if your business relies upon this for any internal or external communications, it’s important that you read this article. Just like no forward-thinking business would still be using a 56k dial up modem, it’s time to start considering the next progressive technology when it comes to your phone line, as of 2025, the old ISDN lines will be shut down.

If your business relies on phone lines for any function at all, the ISDN switch off affects you. BT announced back in 2015 that it would be turning off the ISDN network in ten years, but it’s safe to say, looking at the current landscape, there are still a large portion of businesses who have not prepared for this transition.

Now we’re less than 6 years away from that changeover point, so in terms of future-proofing your business, your ISDN changeover strategy requires action imminently. 

To understand the situation further, let’s start with a bit of background knowledge!

What is the ISDN?

ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, of which the ‘Integrated Services’ part refers to its ability to deliver a minimum of two simultaneous connections, which could include voice, video, fax and data. For a long time, it was the standard service BT provided.

The ISDN was first launched by BT in 1986, which in terms of technology lifespans, is lightyears ago (just think about how quickly new mobile phones become defunct!).

The network was launched to replace the old, outdated BT landlines, as at the time it was revolutionary in its ability to facilitate early video conferencing systems, and at the dawn of internet usage, it offered the fastest speeds in the UK, at 128Kbps.

It’s funny to look back and think 128Kbps was ever fast; that’s barely capable of streaming video, and nowhere near meeting our current expected requirements in business and at home.

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Why is the ISDN being switched off?

It’s simply not viable and useful to integrate into our new daily standards of technology. In the same way we don’t rely on video instead of Netflix, or music tapes instead of Spotify, technology progresses and supports other new technology that works with it. 

If you want to stay relevant and accessible to your customers and clients, it’s time to start thinking about upgrading from ISDN. 

What is the alternative to ISDN?

If you want to upgrade from ISDN, the first thing to realise is that you are not necessarily upgrading your costs or moving to a service that is more expensive, just because it is more advanced. In fact, most of the alternatives can even be less expensive than a traditional phone solution, because the alternatives will soon become the new standard.

It’s also essential to know that although the ISDN is not being turned off until 2025, support for ISDN will cease in 2023, so if you don’t consider alternative providers now, you’ll have cornered yourself into an interesting situation!

ISDN is analogue technology, and the natural progression from that is SIP, which is digital. 

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, and it manages real-time sessions such as voice, video and instant messaging. It controls internet telephony including live video calls and conferences. 

SIP will facilitate your calls and it is much less expensive to maintain than ISDN. Due to the fact it is hosted technology, there is very little physical kit aside from your phone that sits in your business. SIP systems tend to come with an easy to use program that can help you manage communications from your desktop, should you wish to use a video conferencing application and an instant messenger platform.

The systems that come with SIP can have much more advanced functionality than that too, you can have User Interfaces that allow you, or your IT manager, to totally manage the system, set up new numbers, manage your availability, call forwarding, track analytics on your team’s phone usage, record calls and much, much more. 

SIP is a type of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and this primarily uses the internet to facilitate calls. If you have a basic level of reliable internet (as most do these days, if not, your VoIP provider will be able to help), you will have very little downtime to your phones. Whether you’re a large call centre or a small estate agent, an issue with your phones being down can lose your business revenue instantly. Why would you risk relying on old tech?

Our VoIP partner Gamma, guarantees a highly reliable service with a 99.95% uptime, meaning its extremely rare to need to worry about service outages. 

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Is SIP ever going out of date?

You wouldn’t want to overhaul any technology solution in your business if you knew it’s lifescale didn’t justify it’s ROI, but SIP does not have that problem.

Hosted and maintained through the cloud, SIP technologies and interfaces can be updated instantly and regularly, meaning there is no expensive call outs and technicians to cause disruption. 

SIP is also massively scalable, so if your business goes through a growth period, it’s unlikely that the SIP technology will become defunct. You can very quickly add lines and manage new users, with a little easy training. 

Your provider can also update your network remotely should you ever need their help to expand your operations.

Is SIP safe?

Our perceptions formed from the past can lead us to believe that having any service over the internet leaves us vulnerable to hacking and fraud - we put this concern to Gamma, our VoIP partner and asked them exactly how safe the service is. The good news is, Gamma comes with fraud protection as standard. If you are the victim of fraudulent activity on your phone lines, you won’t be charged, and Gamma’s built in security algorithms should alert you to anything unusual on your account. 

How do I move to SIP?

Want to know the best thing? It requires no technical know-how on your part. That’s what we’re here for. Get in touch today and we’ll hook you up with one of our knowledgeable team, who will tailor a solution specific to your needs, and offer completely specialised advice for your business. Want us to call you back to discuss? Click through below to visit our contact page, and we’ll do our research specifically for your business ready for a friendly chat!

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