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The great ISDN switch-off: Is it time to act?

BT NTE and tools
Anthony Crowdie

Anthony Crowdie

With BT’s planned ISDN switch-off looming, we’re helping an increasing number of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire businesses get organised with their phone systems and lines.

In 2015, it was announced that the UK’s ISDN telephone network would be switched off. ISDN is the type of phone line, generally used by businesses who need to use two or more phone lines at once. ISDN comes in 2 main flavours – ISDN2e, which allows for 2 concurrent phone calls, or ISDN30e, which allows for anywhere between 8 and 30 concurrent calls. Traditionally, ISDN was the go-to solution for any premises needing more than just the one phone line – for example, call centres, car showrooms or offices with a number of different people using the phone simultaneously. ISDN services normally connect into an on-premises telephone system.

With the announcement that ISDN services will be coming to an end in 2025, and the life expectancy of the average office phone system being around 10 years, businesses are now starting to consider what needs to happen in order for them to be able to make and receive calls. In the vast majority of cases, ISDN users will transition to VoIP – or Voice over Internet Protocol – using a system called SIP Trunking (Session Initiation Protocol). Without going into too much jargon, VoIP differs from ISDN in that it quite literally involves making and receiving voice calls over an internet connection.

As VoIP specialists, we almost always recommend that new customers seriously consider VoIP anyway. It’s much cheaper and just as reliable as ISDN, with far more features available (see our list of top 10 reasons to move to VoIP here). However, with the ISDN switch-off looming, we’re seeing an increased number of enquiries from confused business owners who aren’t sure what they need to do in order to keep their lines up-and-running. We’ve had conversations with some people who’ve been baffled with technical jargon and ended up signing up to long-term contracts for services they didn’t want or need. As with any major technical change, there’s a fair deal of scaremongering going on.

If you’re concerned about life after ISDN, it might be worth thinking about exploring alternative options but there is no need to panic. Take things slowly, get good advice from a trusted source and weigh up your options over time. We genuinely believe that a switch to VoIP is a good thing for almost everyone – lower line rental and calling rates, better features and increased security to start – but, we are in Wales, after all. The internet connection supporting VoIP calls has got to be suitable and we’re sometimes just not there yet. 

We’ve ripped out ageing ISDN systems for a number of West Wales businesses this year already, and we’ve had great feedback about increased call quality and much lower bills. Similarly, we’ve replaced telephone systems where ISDN lines are used and have stuck with them because the infrastructure isn’t good enough for VoIP. Whatever we decide to do for a local business, it’s always with their best interests in mind and with the benefit of our experience as the local VoIP specialists for West Wales.

About us

We’ve been looking after IT & telecoms in businesses of all shapes and sizes across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion since 2013. Our solutions help our clients save moneyimprove customer service and, perhaps most importantly, grow. Between our Telephone Systems, IT Services, CCTV and WiFi solutions, as well as our Phone & Broadband network, we’re the glue holding together some the most exciting enterprises in the country.