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Some of you may have heard that telephone lines are being switched off!

This is actually true, but let me clarify this a little.

In 2015, BT announced its intention to switch off its PSTN and ISDN networks by 2025.

For those of you that don’t speak ‘Telecoms’, PSTN is the same phone line most people have at home, that sends voice data over copper phone lines, and while things may have changed over the years, PSTN is a very, very old technology, dating back to the first telephone networks of the late 19th Century.  One of the more recent adaptations to PSTN is that it is also used for ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) and FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet ).  As a replacement technology has not yet been identified for this, we assume that the switch off applies to voice over PSTN only.

The other service, ISDN, has only been around since the 80’s so by comparison, is still in short trousers. ISDN is used for voice and data services which can be delivered simultaneously on digital lines.  When launched, ISDN technology was applauded for supporting video conferencing and giving the fastest possible internet connections, up to a blistering 128 kbps!

Now of course there are other, more advanced (and faster) technologies that can provide these sorts of services so the unique selling points for ISDN are now no longer unique.

So basically, the plan is to replace the old technology with new, and most would agree this is a good thing. However, there are a few things to consider.

First thing to say is that the switch off date is just an intention, not a promise.  There are currently over 32 million fixed landlines (including ISDN) with around 6.5 million belonging to businesses (OFCOM information).  These cannot be turned off before there is an alternative network for these lines to go to, so this date is not set in stone and could be pushed back. As a provider of ISDN lines to businesses, we are still able to buy and supply new lines, and BT is still happy to sell them to us.

If you are a business that has an ISDN system and are worried about how this might affect you, what should you do?

Well, don’t panic.  If you are thinking of replacing your phone system anyway, it may be the right time to look at the alternatives, which could include a hosted solution. Mainstream does offer a hosted solution, Hosted Samsung Communications, but its not the only option available to you.

There are plenty of articles and companies promoting the positives of VoIP and hosted telephone systems, so we don’t need to re-visit these here, but we are aware that some providers are using the ISDN switch off to encourage users to move to hosted solutions.  This may not in-fact be the best solution and users can be disappointed with the results but find themselves locked in and unable to change providers.

SIP trunks are a replacement for ISDN, and are an internet based solution that provides lines for voice. They are often cheaper than traditional lines and offer more capacity and additional features, but they do rely on having a good, stable broadband connection, which as we know is not easy for everyone to get.

Hosted ISDN Solution

The telephone systems supplied by Mainstream are compatible with ISDN ,SIP and PSTN technologies, and often just require a simple upgrade to change from one to the other.  If you have an existing system and wish to continue using it, we can advise if such an upgrade is possible.  Even where your system is older and incompatible with SIP, Mainstream can offer a ‘Hosted ISDN’ solution that will ensure older ISDN systems can be supported past 2025, or whenever BT do switch off the network.  In this case an additional gateway box is installed on site between the incoming SIP lines and your existing PBX. This connects you to the latest SIP trunk technology and converts the incoming SIP to the ISDN required.  You can continue using your existing systems with no changes to the internal telephony architecture.

This is an ideal solution for large or complex systems where companies have invested time and money and would be reluctant to scrap that investment and start again. It is a first step into the world of hosted systems and will ensure you get best return on your investment.

Find out more about our Hosted ISDN here >>>

System Maintenance

Mainstream can also provide maintenance for many types of system and will ensure the best return on your investment, until you are ready to upgrade or move to a fully hosted solution.

In short, if you have a system and want to extend its life, we can offer maintenance contracts, and where this is not possible you can be assured that we will assess your needs, and advise the best course of action for you.  If you want to go to a hosted VoIP system, we can help, and if you go for a traditional on premises system, whatever the future may be for ISDN, there will be no surprises.

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