BT intend to stop selling PSTN and ISDN by 2020 and shut it down completely by 2025.
Since BT first introduced ISDN in 1986, connectivity has moved on dramatically. With the roll out of superfast fibre internet and availability of new Ethernet products, ISDN is no longer a requirement. BT have not installed any new ISDN lines in central London since 2014, however, making the switch from ISDN to IP for the three million or so active users will take time.
ISDN, or Integrated Services Digital Network allows the simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data and other network services using the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This means, for example, it could support video conferencing at the same time as an analogue line (traditional phone line).
PSTN is the collective term for the traditional phone line, whereby analogue voice data flows over circuit-switched copper phone lines. It operates on the same fundamental principles as the first public phone networks of the late 19th Century, but in addition to powering voice, PSTN also operates asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC).
It is the voice aspect of PSTN that BT plans to shut down.
The new fibre infrastructure is now widely available and affordable for small businesses thanks to investment and improvements to the communications network across the UK. IP-based solutions, such as VoIP and SIP are now viable alternatives for businesses.
SIP and VoIP as alternatives for businesses.
SIP (Session initiation protocol) removes the need for an ISDN phone line by carrying voice and data over a fibre internet connection. SIP trunk providers work in a similar way to traditional telephony providers in that they lease users a phone number and lines. There are no physical lines to install and maintain and set up and call costs tend to be lower. Connection is via a line used only for SIP trunking, over a dedicated line that carries SIP trunking with other IP traffic, or over the Internet on a virtual private network (VPN).
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology replaces traditional analogue lines by allowing users to make calls over the internet. It works by converting analogue signals to digital ones and then transmitting them as IP packets over a packet switched network.
Despite phone systems being based ‘in the cloud’ VoIP offers traditional telephony features such as call recording, voicemails via email, call queuing and unified communications, with users being able to access the system on multiple devices including mobile, tablet and desktop.
Why use SIP and VoIP?
- Cost savings – both offer much cheaper calls and line rental charges compared to ISDN. There is no major hardware investment as the phone system is in the cloud, so the Capital Expenditure is low.
- Flexibility – removing the need for expensive hardware means businesses can easily move and take their phone numbers/systems with them.
- Connectivity – without the requirement of an engineer to install physical lines, connection is quick and easy.
- Scalability – new lines can be easily added as a business grows.
- Resilience – in line with Disaster Recovery Planning, installing multiple lines for use as backup means your business will always stay connected. Extreme weather conditions, such as snow and flooding, may prevent staff from getting in to the office. However, this does not affect your communications, as you can log in to your partition of the hosted telephone system and divert calls to your mobile or another office.
Switching is quick and easy and you won’t even have to change your existing numbers.
Now is a good time to review your business telecoms requirements and switch to an alternative provider. Instead of using multiple suppliers for different aspects of your communications, why not bring them all together. Not only will this be cheaper, it will ensure seamless communication across the board.
MF Communications provides business telecommunications solutions to manage your business needs, saving you time and money and allowing you to communicate effectively both internally and with your customers. Call +44 1892 514687 to speak to a specialist telecoms advisor, or get in touch via email.