August 10th

ISDN: The Answers to all your Questions

Joshua Lapinsky profile image
David Munro

It has been announced that ISDN networks will be switched off in 2025 in favour of IP voice services, with older systems being phased out from 2023.  As more businesses start thinking about making the transition to newer systems, we found many asking the same questions about what it means for them.  In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions and provide some other useful insight into making the switch Plain Sailing.
A little recap – what is ISDN?
For many years, businesses across the UK have relied on ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines to connect their business phone systems to the outside world. When it launched in the late 1980s, ISDN lines represented a huge advance over previous analogue services for voice and data transmission. ISDN provided new functionality with direct dial numbers, options for number presentation on inbound and outbound calls, and a much better utilisation of the total number of lines available to the phone system or switchboard.
So, what’s the reason for the ISDN switch off?
Like most things in business, over time, the technology evolves and something new comes along. Heavy investment has been made into voice services, and as adoption of business-grade VoIP is growing rapidly, it no longer made sense to invest further in legacy ISDN networks.
Aside from being a more modern technology, VoIP has many advantages, not least that it is the best way to future proof your business communications.
It’s reported however, that as many as two million UK businesses are still using ISDN connections, so for these companies the time is right to start thinking about making the switch.
Frequently asked Questions
As a provider of hosted phone systems, we are already helping a number of UK businesses make the transition.  Here are some of the most popular questions that we are asked.
Q. Does my business currently use ISDN?
A. You’ll know you’re operating via ISDN if you are not using a cloud based solution. We can always help you confirm this if you just give us a call on 0808 168 0000.
Q. I hear a lot about the year 2023 – is this the deadline?
A. It’s a gradual phase out, but many companies talk about 2023 as it will be from then that you will no longer be able to purchase any more ISDN systems. In 2025 ISDN will be turned off altogether. Why not find out when your contract is due to end or be renewed, as this could be the best time to make the switch.
Q. My phone system is quite new, will I have to replace it?
A. Many new office systems already support VoIP, so that’s the first thing that a potential provider would check for. If, by any chance it doesn’t, you have the opportunity to think about switching from a fixed on-premise phone system to a cloud hosted service. We always remind our customers of the many benefits from this option, such as cost savings from reduced calls charges and eliminating line rentals.
Q. Broadband services locally are not great, will the quality of calls be good enough?
A. To ensure a reliable cloud telephony service, your internet connectivity needs to be strong enough. If you’re in a poorly serviced or remote area, this could mean you experience poorer audio quality and a more unreliable service. It’s important that anyone trying to sell you a replacement can prove that it actually works all of the time. At HighNet, we operate our very own UK-wide internet network that’s specifically designed for business use.  Why does this matter? It allows us to deliver next generation internet connectivity without compromising on quality or service delivery. We remove the reliance on dated network infrastructure to deliver a better service to you, all backed by our award-winning customer support.
Q. Is there any independent advice available to businesses?
A. Yes. You’ll be pleased to know that Ofcom’s rules mean that phone users must receive equivalent protections, however their landline is delivered. You can find everything you need here. This will help explain what changes are taking place, the roles and responsibilities of different organisations and the expectations of telecoms providers. You can also request any further necessary advice through this link.
Q. Will I be able to keep all of my phone numbers?
A. Absolutely, and once you have moved onto the VoIP platform there will never be any restriction as to where either the numbers or the customers are geographically located to use them. This flexibility means that your numbers can always move with you as your business grows, and is one of the real benefits of VoIP technology.
Q. Will there be much disruption to my business during the transition?
A. No, the aim is to configure, install and test the new system prior to moving any existing number cross. This means both evolutions of system are installed and operating at the same time.  Numbers then deactivate from the old system and appear on the new, and the old ISDN lines cease at that point. Thereafter, all benefits of a VoIP solution are available.
The practicalities
Most businesses tend to do online research or call some cloud telecom providers to see what they offer. To make this a little easier, we recently pulled together our tips for making a smooth transition from ISDN to VoIP which can be accessed here.
Evaluating your long-term voice and data requirements and choosing a suitable partner organisation should make the ISDN switch-off Plain Sailing.
If you’d welcome advice tailored for the specifics of your business, the HighNet team will be happy to discuss options. We can help you to identify the perfect communications solutions for your current and future needs.

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