BT Wholesale, an arm of the UK telecoms giant BT, has announced that sales of ISDN and PSTN circuits will cease in 2020. Yes, that’s right, just next year – and, if you currently run a UK-based business that relies on ISDN, you could understandably feel nervous.
However, once you have enlightened yourself on the true situation ahead of BT’s intended 2025 switch-off date for ISDN, your fears could quickly subside – especially given the alternatives available.
What Exactly is Happening with ISDN?
It was in 2015 that BT announced its plan to shut down its PSTN and ISDN networks. No-one could have accused the company of not providing sufficient advanced warning of the approaching cut-off point, as ISDN users were being handed a full decade during which to migrate away from ISDN.
BT’s strategy looks wise, given how dated ISDN (integrated services digital network) now appears in light of VoIP (voice over IP), to which BT is transitioning its whole voice network.
What is the Difference Between ISDN and PSTN?
You should be careful not to confuse ISDN with PSTN or use the two acronyms interchangeably.
PSTN (public switched telephone network) is a much older technology, with its roots in the earliest public phone networks of the Victorian era, and refers to the circuit-switched copper phone lines over which analogue voice data flows.
However, as PSTN powers ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) and FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) as well as voice, ComputerWeekly.com has speculated that BT’s intended obsolescence of PSTN refers only to the voice element.
ISDN, meanwhile, emerged during the late 1980s and enables voice and data services to be simultaneously delivered across digital lines. However, since ISDN’s launch, alternative means of fast internet or video conferencing have superseded this technology in relevance.
What Should You Consider if Your Business Still Uses ISDN?
In short, you should consider taking up a VoIP solution for your business. VoIP is a thoroughly time-tested platform with which, compared to PSTN and ISDN, you can much more quickly provision new lines and reduce your reliance on physical lines.
Switching to VoIP would imbue your corporate phone system with significant scalability and flexibility. However, before making the switch, check that your office has sufficient bandwidth. Exactly how much bandwidth is sufficient will be influenced by your individual requirements and Quality of Service (QoS) priorities.
What VoIP-Ready Options Should You Consider?
While most office phone systems provided afresh today support VoIP, if yours doesn’t, you have various options to remedy that. If your handsets show their age, you could have an entire, IP-compatible phone system put in place.
If the prospect of doing that daunts you, an alternative option is buying an IP-enabled PBX to be installed on your premises. You could then invest in SIP trunks for using a broadband, Ethernet or private circuit to connect that PBX to a national phone network.
SIP trunks can serve as a convenient halfway option, as they would let you send and receive phone calls digitally while still using PSTN.