ISDN Withdrawal: Sort the fact from the fiction
Change is afoot in the world of telecoms.
Although communications have come on in leaps and bounds over the past 40 years, the UK’s telephone infrastructure – known as the ISDN network – has not changed since the 1980s, and many businesses are still reliant on this technology to make all of their business calls.
But that’s all set to change within the next few years, as the ISDN network will be retired in favour of newer methods of communication. As a result, we’ve seen a few misconceptions and misunderstandings around what businesses need to do about this move towards new technology.
Try our quick fire fact or fiction ISDN switch off game to make sure you’ve got all the facts at your disposal.
Fact or fiction?
#1. In 2025, Openreach will stop selling ISDN lines.
FICTION: From 2023 onwards, you’ll no longer be able to order a new ISDN telephone line. The ISDN network will be entirely retired in 2025.
#2. Once the ISDN network has been switched off, phone calls will be made over an internet connection.
FACT: Phone calls of the future will be made using VoIP technology – Voice over Internet Protocol.
#3. VoIP is a new and untested technology.
FICTION: The first internet phone software appeared in the mid 90s, and increased in popularity as broadband connectivity became more commonplace, so it’s a tried and tested technology.
#4. ISDN users need to find a quick fix to replace the technology.
FICTION: There’s no point jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire of another phone system that won’t suit your needs within a few years. Think about how your telephony could be set up for you to work most productively and about what your future plans for the business are, then shop around for a product that suits you from a provider you trust.
#5. It’s not a good idea to “wind down” your existing system until the ISDN switch off.
FACT: As ISDN moves closer to becoming a legacy technology, it could become more difficult to find engineers trained to fix faults. That means that if your phone system breaks in future you may face a lengthy wait while you either arrange for your line to be fixed or for a new VoIP system to be installed.
#6. Using VoIP is more expensive
FICTION: Calls made to other offices are free of charge (as long as you’re all using the same VoIP system), and external VoIP calls are charged at a cheaper rate than ISDN landline calls. If you were to opt for a hosted voice system, there’s no equipment (other than a router and telephone handsets, if you want them) to install at your office, so upgrades and fault fixes don’t require costly engineer visits and as you scale up lines and features can be added remotely, which makes it quick and inexpensive.
#7. Changing from ISDN to VoIP is easy
FACT: Installing a VoIP system can be a really simple process. In the case of hosted voice solutions you might not even need an engineer to visit; with a suitable, working internet connection in place, installation can be as easy as plugging in a special router and your pre-configured telephone handsets.
#8. I can keep the same phone number when I move away from ISDN
FACT: Your existing phone number can be ported across to work with your new system. Unlike with ISDN your VoIP phone number is not tied to a geographical location (your copper telephone line) so once you’ve got it, you can take it with you wherever you go.
#9. I’ll need to get a much faster internet connection if I’m going to use VoIP.
FICTION: This doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Many people focus solely on the speed of their connection when assessing its ability to support VoIP, but it’s important to also look at whether your connection will be dedicated only to VoIP use, what its contention ratio is and the service you expect to receive from your provider. Depending on how many calls you’re likely to be making concurrently, you may not need a spectacularly fast connection, but you’ll certainly need a reliable one.
#10. I don’t need a desk phone to use VoIP.
FACT: Whilst a desk phone is still a familiar and popular way of working for many, it is not strictly necessary with some hosted voice solutions such as BeamRing. Because it’s designed for flexibility and accessible from any location with an internet connection, an app can be downloaded that turns your PC, tablet or mobile phone into a desktop phone which receives incoming calls to your office number and presents that number when external calls are made, maintaining all the features and functionality you’d expect from your desk phone.