What does it mean for business?

BT has announced that they intend to migrate all customers away from their ISDN network by 2025. Until now there has been no set date for the ISDN switch-off despite much discussion within the industry as to when BT might switch off their PSTN and ISDN networks.

The announcement from BT is the first step in taking them towards their vision of a single IP core network that replaces all legacy networks and platforms. With over 3 million ISDN channels active in the UK, this will be a long process and BT will begin the migration process relatively soon in order to meet this ambitious target.
I use ISDN. What do I need to do?

First of all, there's no rush. BT have given themselves a decade to migrate customers away from ISDN, so your telephony services aren't going to stop working overnight. Nonetheless, this announcement is an opportunity for businesses to review their telephony services now in order to plan for the future. Moving to SIP trunking ahead of the ISDN switch off means you don’t have to wait to take advantage of VoIP benefits such as reduced call charges and flexible call routing.

SIP Trunking is a form of IP telephony and a replacement for traditional ISDN. In simple terms SIP allows the running of voice calls over your internet connection (Voice over IP, or VoIP).

Benefits of SIP and VoIP:

  • Reduce costs – SIP trunks do not have the high line rental charges of ISDN.
  • Fix call charges – included calls to 01, 02, 03 and UK mobile numbers
  • Flexibility - Your phone number is no longer tied to a geographic location when you move to SIP
  • Just add more SIP trunks to increase bandwidth and take more simultaneous calls

Together, the benefits that SIP and VoIP offer make it a viable solution for business communications. A recent report highlighted that nearly 60% of enterprises will be using SIP trunking by the end of the year. Before moving to SIP there are two considerations every business should address:

1. Internet connectivity

A fast reliable Internet connection is an essential pre-requisite to moving to SIP. It is important to assess whether your office internet connection can handle VoIP in addition to everything else it is already used for. Without sufficient bandwidth and a robust service level agreement, the advantages of VoIP are lost—you’ll experience poor call quality, intermittent service, and other difficulties.

The best way to confirm this is to use an online speed checker (such as http://www.speedtest.net). Compare your results to the minimum bandwidth requirement of 5Mbps down and 2Mbps for a small office of about 5-7 users on VoIP. Larger offices with more users will need more bandwidth and a better service level agreement than is normally available with broadband services.

Upgrading to an Ethernet connection will normally provide the additional upstream bandwidth and assured availability required for VoIP services. The government’s connection voucher scheme is offering grants of up to £3000.00 for businesses looking to upgrade to superfast connectivity. The scheme runs until 31st March 2016 although may end sooner if the £40m allocation is used before that date.

Full details for the connection voucher scheme can be found here.

2. Your current phone system

If your phone system supports IP telephony then you should have no problems using your existing hardware with SIP trunking instead of ISDN. Cerberus SIP trunks are compatible with all major vendors.

If your current phone system is not directly compatible you can install a SIP gateway. This fools the phone system into thinking it is still using ISDN whilst routing calls over your Internet connection. Whilst compatible with hardware from most vendors, Cerberus will confirm compatibility before you commit to any changes.

Another option is to move to a hosted telephony service such as Cerberus Horizon. This provides an extensive range of fixed and mobile telephony capabilities via an easy-to-use web portal. Hosted telephony is suitable for any size business and provides great flexibility for companies with remote staff or who need their telephony to grow with them. Hosted services are priced per user per month and avoid the high costs traditionally associated phone system upgrades.
What other options do I have?

For many modern businesses, moving to a hosted telephony service can provide significant benefits in terms of reduced capex, reduced support overheads and increased flexibility. Cerberus offers a number of options including Cerberus Horizon and MyCloud Lync.

Find out more about ISDN replacement services