Integrated services digital networks (ISDN), the analogue communication lines that have helped keep us connected since the late 1980s, are soon to be switched off by BT. This switch-off of legacy communications infrastructure (copper wired) is necessary to support the transition away from analogue technology into the digital era.
BT announced the 2025 switch off for all ISDN and PSTN services in 2015 and are now no longer processing orders for both lines. According to Espria, UK businesses need to properly understand the impact that this can have, particularly for often overlooked services such as lifts, alarms, broadband, PDQs and EPOS devices, as well as phones.
Andy Fung, Communications Solutions Architect at Espria, stated, “ISDN is no longer suitable for the current digital age. Even at the time the standard was released, newer networking systems with far greater speeds were already available, meaning it saw relatively little uptake in the wider market. The legacy infrastructure is now too expensive to maintain, relative to its usage, and the technology itself is not suitable for the massive demands required of modern communications and networking systems.
“Already, large parts of the UK can no longer receive new ISDN or PSTN provisions. Changes are coming and your area may already be affected – Mildenhall and Salisbury were switched off last year as part of the test roll-out. Businesses have a duty to themselves to ensure they do not lose access to vital communications tools, and that means looking into exactly what systems are at risk of disrupted business continuity. The switch off not only effects your telecommunications but could also disrupt your alarm systems, PDQ and EPOS machines, lifts and more, interrupting more than just your business communications.
Whilst many businesses are likely to make the jump from ISDN to VoIP automatically, understanding the business benefits of the technology should be a key factor.
- Cost-efficiency – VoIP is a cheaper and faster alternative when compared to ISDN. For businesses looking to maximise communications investments, VoIP is already well ahead of legacy systems.
- Cloud Network – VoIP provides incredible cloud networking speeds and enhanced security, which is important for both business efficiency and maintaining cybersecurity in this new era of hybrid working.
- Stronger, Reliable Technology – VoIP provides reduced downtime and stronger connectivity when you switch from ISDN to the cloud.
Fung continued, “Switching to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service now could save you time as well as money. As we count down to the January 2025 switch off, here are 4 preparatory steps we recommend to ensure your business is completely future ready.
- Begin auditing your connections systems
What services need to be connected? And does your service need to be scalable? It’s important to recognise the parts of your communications systems that are going to be directly affected. This list could include voice services, video conferencing and real-time collaboration tools – all critical parts of your communications network, but also lesser noticed yet still integral systems, such as alarms, door entry systems, lift emergency lines, payment terminals, cash and fax machines. Finally, understanding the different needs of your hybrid and office-based employees, and how many phone lines are required or in use at a given time informs a comprehensive understanding of your company.
- Maximise service provision for what your business needs
Understanding the specifics of your business service provision is key to knowing where upgrades need to be made. Factors such as utilising fixed or mobile networks, knowledge of their capacity for today and the future, and whether VoIP is has appropriate ease of use and is fit for purpose is key.
- Scrutinising hardware needs
Consulting employees to understand their hardware needs is often overlooked but can lead to more focused business results. This may vary from company to company – one voice service does not necessarily fit all. Considering IP headsets, a softphone client or a hybrid approach to communications are all important factors to consider.
- Embracing digital transformation across more than just phone services.
Consider upgrading to more than just a digital phone service – new services will present you with new ways of working and opportunities to change the way you communicate. Cloud-based systems offer more features and can easily integrate mobile devices and apps. These can also provide more detailed reporting, share insights about customer and employee behaviour and support flexible and remote working.
Fung concluded, “2025 is fast approaching. Preparing now is of the utmost importance to comms providers, and consulting your systems and making changes now can help future-proof your business, not just for the next couple of years but for the foreseeable future.”