Should I change phone system before the 2025 ISDN switch-off?
In short, yes. The ISDN network will almost certainly grow more fragile in the next three years. And the industry is already warning about a last-minute panic.
What is ISDN?
ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, and it’s a way of transmitting digital information on phone lines. Introduced in 1986, 30 years ago it was a cutting-edge way of using copper telephone lines to deliver both phone calls and data. It is now considered legacy technology, but is still used to connect some on-premise phone systems, as well as other older equipment, such as faxes.
Why would I think about moving from ISDN phone systems to cloud telephony?
This is simple. Openreach, with the support of the government, is switching off ISDN in December 2025. As this is a rolling programme, in some places, the cut-off will happen earlier.
Firms are already moving to VoIP or Voice Over IP – in other words, phone calls that are made using the internet rather than a traditional copper phone line. After 2025, this will be the only option. So this is actually an ideal time to look at your choices and to decide what phone system is right for you.
Many phone systems can be upgraded to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks, which would allow you to replace the ISDN connection but retain an on-premise system. However, after the challenges the pandemic created, many companies have changed their way of working, and going to a cloud system may be a preferable solution, because of the extra functionality this could bring. Why stick with a half-way house when you could free yourself of on-site maintenance charges, power costs, and ageing equipment?
The advantage of a cloud phone system is flexibility. In the same way that you pay a monthly fee to Microsoft for Office 365 email, you pay for a licence to make and receive calls. With BeamRing from Beaming, flexibility is built in so you can change your licence numbers to match your staff numbers which gives you a tight rein on cost. Staff can use an app on their mobiles or laptops to take calls on their office number anywhere, so working from home becomes a true extension of working from the office. Or they can have handsets at home, in the office, or both. All these methods provide a seamless experience for customers, which is becoming a key differentiator now that we are living with Covid.
Why move now?
Firstly, to avoid a scramble in 2025. In a survey last year, 46% of organisations still had no idea about the December 2025 switch-off. Compared with 2012’s digital switchover for UK TV, the telephone changes aren’t as well-known yet. There has been no government information campaign, as there was with TV. And Openreach says it is not aware of anything forthcoming. But this doesn’t mean the changes aren’t significant, indeed they are much more important for businesses than then the TV switchover. Despite this, many look set to change at the last minute.
This is already causing concern in the industry. In 2021 the chairman of National Business Communications said, “Businesses need to start preparing for the switch-off now. We anticipate a hold-up in 2025 due to unprepared businesses, which may mean the industry won’t be able to keep up with the number of last-minute orders, possibly leaving businesses without a service.”
Secondly, there is a potential problem with worsening ISDN service in the years up to 2025. The number of ISDN-trained engineers who can fix faults will fall. So will investment in the copper network, which in places is more than 100 years old. Problems will grow more frequent, and the network will be more fragile.
Thirdly, there are positive reasons for moving now. Retaining staff by making sure they have the right tools to do the job is key, and cloud phone systems do this, so you reduce the cost of recruitment. Phone bills for many companies come down with BeamRing, as calls to local and national numbers are part of the licence package, including when staff are using the app on a smart device. You don’t need to worry about being tied to an office as your telephone number becomes hosted on the cloud.
So to protect your organisation, the time to move is now – or at least soon. Change may seem a pain, but Beaming can help make it as stress-free as possible. Taking the initiative now allows you to plan properly and put the right solution in place for your business and your customers.
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