Getting ready for the big ISDN switch off

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2017
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By Steve Burnley
Collaboration Technical Lead


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At Softcat, we believe modern collaboration technologies are an important part of mobilising your people. Many organisations forget to consider telephony as part of a mobility strategy - even though you can't be truly mobile unless you can take your deskphone with you. If this is not currently on your agenda, you should at least be concerned about The Big ISDN Switch Off!

In 2025, BT will flick a switch and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) telephony will be no more. Most businesses don’t follow the world of telephone systems closely enough to be aware that change is coming, and those that are aware might be looking at this date and thinking “Let’s put a pin in it and address that in the middle of 2024.” However, when you consider that the average telephone system serves a company for 9 years, that means that companies who are purchasing ISDN solutions today are already paying for something that will be obsolete before its life is complete. Can your business afford to purchase such fundamental resources knowing that 20% of the cost is straight to the black hole of unutilised expenses?

Mobilising your People

From 2025, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) will be the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) connection that businesses use. The fondness that many businesses have for ISDN is understandable in many ways. It is familiar and there was perhaps a time when SIP solutions were theoretically preferable but didn’t deliver the predictability of ISDN. In reality, SIP has been the better solution for many years now, and waiting until 2025 to make the migration doesn’t make great business sense—if any at all.

For the uninitiated, the main difference between ISDN and SIP is in the routing. With an ISDN solution, your telephone communications are going through one cable. If that is damaged or unavailable for any reason, then the telephones won’t work. And, of course, that means downtime for the business. SIP is a bit smarter, in that if one cable is down, it reroutes the call to find a different trunk with which to make the connection. Downtime is still technically possible, but the resiliency of the phone system can reach something like 99.99999%  —  which is as close to “always on” as you can ever really get in an uncertain world.

Preparation means a better bottom line

All of this means that businesses who are switching to SIP now are not only better prepared for the future, they are also getting instant benefits from a cheaper service, increased productivity, and competitive advantage. By switching in 2017, you can reap those rewards for 8 years before competitors catch up.

And while you’d think that competitors are already jumping on board the SIP train, it is surprising how few have already made the necessary switch. Statistics may show that the adopted rate is growing at 2- to 3000% per year, but the overall percentages are still in single digits.

Lack of awareness might be the number one factor stopping businesses from taking on SIP but a close second is the misconception that their current systems are incompatible. Whilst this may have been true some time in the past, there are actually plenty of techniques that now allow us to take almost all existing infrastructure and implement an SIP solution.

Speak to our Collaboration team 

If you are using an ISDN system and want to gain the early competitive advantage rather than waiting until the last minute, contact your Softcat account manager or get in touch using the button below. We offer comprehensive SIP migration services that can start bringing savings to your business long before the lights go out on ISDN. 

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