In 2025, BT will switch off the ageing ISDN telephone network and businesses still using it will be forced to migrate to more modern technology. You really don’t want to be one of those stragglers, scrambling to implement a brand-new system before your line goes dead.

BT has said it will stop selling ISDN from 2023, so there are a few more years of life in solutions that you are rusing. But if your current telephony contract comes up for renewal before then, we strongly advise that you seriously start considering alternatives. Now is the right time to get ahead of the rush and implement a solution that will future-proof your business for years to come.

What is the problem with ISDN and why it is being switched off?

Simply, the ISDN network is increasingly unfit for purpose. This copper-based infrastructure was implemented in the 1980s and designed for making calls, not transferring data. The system is now creaking under the weight of all the files, photos and videos we send every single day.

It’s not just the fact that the ISDN can’t cope with the huge increase in data usage over the last couple of decades. Far better alternatives are also available, and with such a focus on remote working, modern IP-based calling solutions help your team communicate and collaborate more efficiently. Plus, cloud-based calling services like VoIP can actually save you money compared to a legacy landline solution.

What are your alternatives?

All the alternatives to ISDN use the internet for calls and data. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is the most popular ISDN replacement, for good reason. SIP carries voice and data over the same pipeline, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for business communications.
ISDN can also carry data, but not in a way that allows for efficient multi-channel communications. SIP can easily handle voice, video and conferencing, in one system, and can also integrate seamlessly with unified communication (UC) solutions.

SIP is highly flexible, enabling you to add and remove lines quickly and easily, which improves call quality and lowers costs. No capital expenditure is required to install SIP, and there are no ongoing maintenance costs. It’s pretty much the industry standard at the moment, and the obvious choice for businesses looking to replace ISDN. In fact, you may not even have to change your current infrastructure; SIP is a virtual product, compatible with most traditional on-premise PBX equipment.

What is hosted voice?

Another alternative is hosted voice, which takes SIP a step further by ditching on-premises infrastructure altogether. In effect, hosted voice uses your internet connection but rents you the phone service as an add-on.

Hosted voice is incredibly flexible and scalable, letting users make business calls from anywhere, on any device. There are minimal set-up costs and you simply pay a monthly subscription for the service, which includes maintenance and automatic upgrades. You can also choose the features you want, which can include video conferencing, call routing, voicemail to email services and a host more.

The alternative that is best for you will depend on your current system, your business requirements and your future plans. But, it’s fair to say that SIP and hosted voice are a huge steps forward compared to ISDN in call quality, flexibility and cost.

Don’t forget connectivity

But – while both SIP and hosted voice are generally easy to implement – one factor you need to consider is connectivity. When you switch from ISDN to an IP-based telephony solution, you’ll be putting far more pressure on your internet connection. Think of all the voice and video traffic that will now share the same pipeline as file downloads, net browsing, cloud services and email.

As a rule of thumb, an office of 10 or less requires a minimum of 5 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload to handle VoIP functionality. But, that doesn’t include anything else you’ll be using your connection for. If you employ data hungry apps or services, or have a lot of employees connecting to cloud services, you may need extra capacity.

If you want to discuss your needs, or any questions you have around the ISDN switch off, please get in touch. Jutel is a specialist in business communications, and we’ll be happy to advise you on the best telephony solution for your needs. To make your transition to IP calling as easy as possible, we can implement your complete solution, from reliable broadband to flexible, cost effective calling.

ISDN has been the UK’s communications workhorse for the last 30 years, but it won’t be available for much longer. Avoid a last minute panic by starting to consider more modern alternatives now.