The end of ISDN?BT recently announced that by 2025 they anticipate all business users will have migrated onto their IP network enabling the ISDN network, which currently provides voice connectivity to the vast majority of UK businesses, to be ceased.

The announcement aligns with BT’s vision of a single IP core network replacing all legacy networks and platforms but with 3.2 million ISDN channels active in the UK there is a lot of work for BT and Communication Providers like MPS Networks plc to do to get to this stage.

The MPS View on BT’s Announcement

Talking about BT’s plans MPS MD Tim Docker said “I think BT’s plan to cease ISDN by 2025 is optimistic. It is true that there is a migration from ISDN to SIP trunks and Cloud or Hosted Telephony taking place right now. These IP technologies provide enhanced features, functionality and flexibility when compared to ISDN and digital telephony as well as potential cost savings. Consequently we are now seeing IP telephony feature in the vast majority of solutions we are designing and delivering.

Notwithstanding this position these IP based solutions do not fit every requirement and there are situations where we are continuing to work with existing ISDN or even installing new ISDN. In particular SIP trunks and hosted solutions are absolutely dependent upon connectivity; they not only need enough bandwidth but need to be able to rely upon the bandwidth required to be available all of the time. Access circuits must be robust and reliable and in some cases suitable circuits, in other words suitable connectivity, is either not available or not available at viable cost. Whilst there has been significant investment in the UK IP Core in recent years this will have to be sustained for some time yet before BT can move away from ISDN and I think 10 years is probably not long enough.

At MPS we will continue to provide customers and prospective customers with best advice based on their specific requirements which will very often be at the leading edge of technology but not always.”

What does this mean for businesses using ISDN?

First of all there’s no need to panic, BT have given themselves a decade to migrate customers off the ISDN network, so your phone lines aren’t going to just stop working next week. There are, however, very often significant advantages to be gained by migration to SIP trunks and/or hosted telephony and so the announcement is a prompt for businesses to get ahead and unlock the benefits of VoIP by switching to IP now.

What is SIP Trunking and Hosted Telephony?

SIP Trunking and Hosted Telephony are forms of IP telephony which can replace traditional ISDN. They enable voice calls to be made over an IP access circuit such as your internet connection. SIP Trunks work with an IP telephone system in your premises compared to Hosted Telephony where the only equipment in your premises are the end point devices (phones, conference devices, etc.) and the actual telephone system is “hosted” by the provider in the Cloud (a remote data centre).

What are the benefits of SIP and Hosted Telephony?

  • SIP line rental is typically lower than ISDN and MPS is currently offering free calls to UK geographic and mobile destinations with our SIP packages.
  • There is no line rental with hosted solutions and no annual maintenance contract whilst the current MPS offer does include free calls to UK geographic and mobile destinations. The hosted system will always be right up to date in terms of features and software levels, with updates being carried out by the provider at no charge to the user.
  • Once a telephone number or DDI range is migrated to a SIP or Hosted platform calls to the number(s) can be delivered over any IP access circuit to any UK location at no delivery charge, and so there is much more flexibility in this area compared to ISDN where numbers are restricted to geographic locations determined by BT Exchange coverage areas.
  • More SIP trunks or hosted users can be added within 24 hours as and when more capacity is required.
  • SIP based and hosted solutions can be designed to provide more Disaster Recovery capabilities than an ISDN based solution due to more powerful and flexible call forwarding and the ability to use hosted devices from any Internet access point.

What do I need to consider before switching to SIP or Hosted Telephony?

There are a number of factors to consider, best discussed with an MPS Consultant.

How can I get help?

If you would like advice and information about making the move to SIP and/or hosted telephony and unlocking the benefits of IP please call us on 0800 298 5299.