BT had announced that from 2020, you would no longer be able to purchase ISDN lines, with a target of 2025 for a switch off date.

The date has since been revised, meaning you can continue to purchase ISDN lines until September 2023. That does not however, mean you should.

The ISDN switch off in 2025 is another ‘future IT Directors problem’ hanging over business’s heads, much like the GDPR deadlines and Y2k that came before. As the need to act becomes more omnipresent, so does the risk of making rash decisions, which without proper consideration could hinder rather than help a technology transformation.

But when is all said and done, will many of us mourn the death of ISDN?

Why make the switch from ISDN to SIP?

I have believed for some time that ISDN is an expensive, clunky, and highly limiting technology with no place in the modern business world. In the words of Sith Lord Kio Ren, “it is time to let old things die.”

The most significant limiting factor of ISDN is that fact that it ties customer numbers into not only a single physical location, but also into proprietary (and costly) PBX hardware. Now, whilst I don’t claim to know every business’ IT strategy, I can take an educated guess that it isn’t to support standalone proprietary tin on single 13 amp fuses, with very little resiliency and no part to play in a broader disaster recovery plan.

The transition from ISDN to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), has allowed business to bring voice communications directly into the highly resilient Infrastructure and wider IT strategies many have already invested so heavily into. At this point, it can be managed alongside all business applications, whether they are in an on-prem VMware environment, public or private Cloud.

Bringing calls into a controlled IT platform also opens up a whole host of other applications. The death of ISDN should not be seen as a concern, but as the catalyst for many businesses to look at internal efficiencies, staff wellbeing and customer experience. Yes, you can technically deliver home working, and bring calls into omnichannel contact centres with ISDN, but you are still bound by all of the physical limitations previously mentioned. Modern cloud technologies bring with it incredible levels of innovation, and these innovations are much harder to implement in the old world.

How to take a proactive approach to disaster recovery

Disaster recovery also becomes much more difficult when your numbers remain on ISDN. The challenges of being tied to a single location, the limitations in diverting individual numbers at carrier level. There are potential workarounds, but they can be incredibly time intensive, painful to deliver and ineffective in the long term.

If COVID 19 has had one single point to make to the business world, it’s that the challenge with disaster recovery is the unknown. Disasters can come in all manner of seemingly unimaginable and unpredictable forms. I would be willing to bet that in general, organisations who have already transitioned away from ISDN have coped significantly better than organisations who have not.
Finally, ISDN is expensive. Let us not forget what ISDN is as a technology. It is a very ‘old hat’ way of delivering 64kbps of bandwidth per channel at around £13.00 per month. When you compare that to modern fibre bandwidth costs, that is expensive! Modern fibre tails also deliver not only voice, but all business applications.

How can your business prepare?

The end of life for ISDN allows a business to consolidate investment into building a more robust network for all applications in order to provide more freedom and a better work/life balance for staff. Improved business efficiency, operational agility, and the ability to deliver simply brilliant customer experiences almost become a by-product of implementing SIP or VoIP communications technology fit for 2020 and beyond.

The easiest step to take is to talk to an expert in SIP (like Olive) to understand where efficiencies can be made, and how you can act quickly at contract renewal stage.

It's been a long time coming and I’m sorry ISDN, but your time is up.

To understand the benefits of moving from ISDN to SIP, download our free guide to understand why so many organisations are making the move to SIP.

TOPICS: Cloud Telephony

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