ISDN Shutdown in Perspective


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Openreach announced in 2015 that they would begin to phase out their ISDN lines. This will start from January 2020 with complete ‘shut down’ of the ISDN network by 2025.

As 2025 starts to become more tangible, with next year being 2020 when changes start to take effect, some ill-informed, or even deliberately obtuse information has begun to swirl around the telecoms sector.

Here’s what you need to know

From January 2020, you will no longer be able to purchase additional ISDN2 or ISDN30 lines. This does not mean you cannot use your existing lines. However, it does mean you can no longer add new lines, should you have ISDN2 or ISDN30.

ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It is essentially the system used to send digital data over phone lines. The cost of maintaining these lines far outweighs the benefits, with many alternatives being cheaper and faster. OFCOM published an extensive report where they stated, “the key benefit of IP-based products including SIP Trunks which has been sold to customers is lower cost vs. ISDN30. These cost benefits apply to both rental and calls”. You can find the full report here.

In 2025, these ISDN lines will no longer be operational. This gives you just over 5 years to find an alternative, so there is no need for immediate panic. Know the facts, so you are well versed on the subject when any telecoms provider approaches you. Make well-informed decisions.

Does this affect you?

The most important thing to know: is this even a problem for your business? Alternatives to ISDN have been in use for a decade now, so it is entirely possible your business is using one. This could be in the shape of SIP connectivity to replace your ISDN or a cloud-based solution which could have replaced your ISDN and your telephone system altogether.

If you don’t know what kind of lines you have, you can check your bill. On the second or third page should be a ‘product description’. Here it should say what kind of lines and the quantity you have.

What are my alternatives?

If this shut-down affects you, do not panic. You have just over 5 years to find an alternative service that suits your business needs and budget.

Alternatives to ISDN lines are far faster IP based connections like SIP or cloud-based systems. One thing to be aware of is that these systems rely upon good data connectivity to deliver a superior service. Specifically, they are reliant upon a good upload speed.

If you are worried about your upload speed, or the cost of implementing an alternative to ISDN, do not worry. A government scheme to improve connectivity in businesses can offer you up to £2500 to subsidise these install costs. This can help ensure that your move from ISDN to IP based connections does not create a financial burden.

The benefits of a SIP or cloud-based system are clear. It is far easier and faster to divert each DDI, or direct dial-in numbers. Should there be a problem and the service goes down, a SIP divert can take place in a minute or two, diverting all DDI’s, whereas ISDN divert can’t divert individual DDIs and it can take up to 24 hours. SIP can also offer you free minutes and DDI rental free.

How can I ensure I get the best possible service?

When you enquire about alternatives to ISDN, there are some important questions you should ask. Firstly, who the carrier or supplier is and how many colocations they have. Colocation is the use of a separate data centre as a shared facility. In terms of colocations, you should aim for at least 3 or 4 locations. But it is crucial the provider is ‘hot resilient’. This means that should a data centre go down, the calls are automatically transferred to the next data centre- making it a seamless change. Some services may offer multiple colocations, but it is essential that they are in different colocation data centres, as this can make them more ‘resilient’ should there be an issue. Also check what they offer for call fraud protection.

When do I need to switch?

We would recommend initially to Switching from ISDN if you are planning to:

  • Upgrade your telephone system
  • Move office location
  • Expand your current telephone system

These are ideal scenarios for considering a change. The sooner you consider switching from ISDN the better and there is nothing stopping you from switching today.

Loop Voice & Data have been deploying VoIP (Cloud telephone system & SIP solutions)
for over ten years. The sooner you can act, the greater financial gain. Get access to better
technology that is more cost effective in the long term.

But first, get the support you can trust and rely upon. Download our checklist to guide you
through the change.

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