People will not be able to buy ISDN (integrated services digital) and PSTN (public switched telephone network) circuits like before. This is because of the transition to voice protocol. BT Wholesale announced that this would come into effect as from 2020 since it aims at switching them off in 2025. This announcement has led to plenty of questions, some of which we are going to cover in today’s post. For instance: will BT folow through with its resolve? what kind of measures and strategies are in the pipeline before this happens? What alternatives will those still using ISDN/PSTN change to?

Back in 2015, BT made a smart move by announcing its decision to switch off its PTSN and ISDN systems by the year 2025. Due to the speed at which technology is evolving, the communication services sector is currently embracing the use of voice protocol as base standard operating protocol. It was important for BT to make this announcement and give enough time (an entire decade) to their customers to make the much-needed change. The good thing is that some of the customers have already made the switch. So, what are the implications of the announcement for the industry as a whole?

Understanding the Implication of the Announcement

To better understand this, we need to look at what the PSTN and ISDN systems are. Well, PTSN is widely used at home, and it utilizes the flow of voice data (analogue) over circuit-switched phone lines made of copper. This is seriously old technology which has evolved with time over in the past years. The technology used by this system relies on the same basic principles which were used by the ancient phone networks way back in the 19th century.

However, BT is yet to provide alternatives for the asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) which operate on the PTSN. This makes it easy to assume and think that BT’s switch plan only applies to PSTN’s voice only provision.

ISDN, on the other hand, is still a pretty new technology introduced in the late 80’s. It accommodates both data and voice services which are concurrently delivered via digital lines. In the early years, when the ISDN was introduced, it was very convenient for businesses because it had the provisions of video-conferencing. It had the fastest internet access of 128kbps which was pretty impressive at that time. Today, ISDN’s USP has been eroded fast because it is currently not attractive for use in video conferencing or for fast internet speeds.

What’s the New Technology Being Introduced?

To sum it up, BT is migrating its whole voice network to voice protocol. And by the way, voice protocol isn’t something new and it has proven its effectiveness. You might have heard about this system, and even if you havent adopted it yet for your business, its use is steadily increasing in the background. Many more businesses have started using it particularly since the early adopters of the technology have found it to be very efficient.
voice protocol has superiority benefits compared to both PSTN and ISDN. For instance, it much faster when it comes to new line provisioning, it gives you the option of decreasing your line rental as it requires much less physical lines. Moreover, voice protocol can be scaled up and it is exceptionally flexible in the sense that you can also redirect calls to various locations of the country just by the touch of a button or have just a single number that you can use irrespective of your geographical location and working location

Why the Change in Technology?

Well, technology keeps evolving, and efficiency and affordability are the key benefits of this evolution. Cheaper and more efficient technologies are being adopted because the maintenance of several legacy networks is quite costly for BT. By pooling all the services, i.e. voice, video, data, video, and broadcasting them via one network, the IP protocol, BT only has the maintenance cost of a single network.

However, this does not imply that ISDN will be wiped out in 2025. It might not be so because the due date is not really final per se. BT has all the intention to stop dealing in ISDN and PSTN by 2020 and completely shut it down by the set date, 2025. However, this will mean that it should have managed to migrate all its customers from the ISDN to the new IP services before 2025.

To realize this, there must be alternatives readily available to everybody before the complete shutdown of the outdated system. It is worth to note that as of today, many companies and businesses still find ISDN as the best option they have access to. This was evident through the research carried out by Ofcom that the number of fixed landlines in the United Kingdom is 33.2 million of which ISDN is included, and that close to 7.6 million belong to companies. This will mean that BT cannot switch them off without providing them with viable alternatives.

What Next for You?

Systems that still use the old technology will lose out on the market share as many consumers will not go for such by 2020 which is just a mere two years away. This timeline should influence businesses to consider exploring the provisions of the voice protocol and SIP technologies pretty fast. Time is running out pretty fast.
So, there are two important questions to consider in case you are in a locality that can buy the voice protocol infrastructure. They include:

1. Do you Have a Strong Internet Connection to Effect an Easy Delivery of Voice Protocol?

To effectively utilise the benefits of the technology and deliver top quality voice, voice protocol needs enough bandwidth which tends to vary depending on individual requirements and needs. The last thing you want is to experience poor quality of audio. It is sometimes advised that you require 5Mbps down and 2Mbps up as the lower minimums for small premises. However, you should realize will first have to determine your needs. Again, insufficient bandwidth will affect the quality of your audio and you may not realize the full VoIP benefits.

2. Does the Office Phone Support Voice Protocol?

If you don’t have the new telephone systems that already have VoIP support, there is no shortcut here. The phone system has to support VoIP. You can consider investing in an on-premise PBX (the box which links the internal phone system with the external telephone network) with IP functionality or replace the entire old system with an IP one. Furthermore, you can as well make the switch with a hosted telephony system.

Is the ISDN System Still Worth Buying Today?

Considering all the advantages that VoIP has over ISDN it is worthwhile to invest in the new technology. However, it is advisable to weigh options to determine which system best suits you. There are situations where the ISDN is preferred over the VoIP, for instance as a failover or disaster recovery option.

As much as we are waiting to see whether the 2025 deadline will be adhered to, we can never tell for sure whether the fibre rollout in the UK will materialise. That’s because without the fibre connection to run things, there’s no worthwhile ISDN alternative. It is however evident that the ISDN and PSTN are no longer the to-go-to kinds of technology and since UK’s connectivity keeps getting faster, the switch may even occur much sooner! It’s an era of new, more efficient technology in the communication service sector, therefore, you must not be left in the past! Check out our VoIP services for information.

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