Image for Switch ISDN for VoIP – beating the acronym challenge, its easy

Switch ISDN for VoIP – beating the acronym challenge, its easy

Local businesses are upgrading fast as NI’s telecom’s network preps for a transformational change with the move from ISDN to VoIP

It’s easy to talk telecoms at my end – technical jargon, acronyms and abbreviations are almost a given. They’re not for everyone of course, but I do find that when I’m talking about an imminent deadline, I have more than a listening ear!

Like many people, I like deadlines. They bring focus and an objective to completing a task. They motivate, force clarity and action – and, more often than not, they are part of something more strategic.

And one imminent deadline I’m acutely focused on in my sector is the imminent demise of ISDN and the introduction of its replacement, VoIP technology. In my book, of the more than 25 acronyms rolling at any one time, these are among the most important.

So, what’s ISDN? It’s short for Integrated Service Digital Network, which in basic terms is a circuit-switched telephone network system that allows both voice and data services to be delivered over digital lines simultaneously. It was launched by BT in 1986 to migrate outdated landline technology to digital, and it’s what many are still using now.

The important thing to note, however, is that ISDN is on the way out.

From 2023, you won’t be able to order an ISDN line and from 2025, there will be no ISDN network at all! But rest easy, there is already a mature solution to replace it in the form of newer digital technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP for short). Put more simply, it just means running your phone calls over broadband, Wi-Fi and 4G and 5G networks.

An even greater thing to note is that switching from ISDN to VoIP isn’t as complicated as you might think. It’s already standard practice and thousands of local businesses are already on board. If you’re using WhatsApp, then you’re using VoIP.

The change will offer potential benefits to consumers such as clearer phone calls, and it will help ensure that the UK’s telephony system is fit for the future with a solid and secure foundation for new technologies and uses.

Should all this be a cause for worry?

Absolutely not! For almost everyone, switching to VoIP is easy. You will continue to receive what you recognise as a traditional phone service and for most, the only change they will need to make will be to connect your new handsets to your existing CAT5 network.

Can my internet connection support it?

In nearly all cases, yes. In fact, VoIP doesn’t use very much data when compared with other services like video and you will still need enough bandwidth to deliver voice on top of everything else your office does. Some VoIP providers suggest a minimum of 1Mbps upload over a fibre connection, for a very small office of up to five users, though most broadband providers offer much, much more.

Will my existing phones support it?

Though VoIP is cloud based therefore removing the need for a physical phone system, it can be added to most modern phone systems. This can help businesses mitigate against any investment, whilst adding functionality, capacity, linking sites and importantly reducing costs.

Are there other benefits?

They are almost limitless. VoIP allows organisations to truly adopt flexible, remote and mobile working, by allowing workers to work from any location at any time and still have the same experience. It means greater flexibility. Using any broadband connection, you can log in and phone away.

Time is running out and if you switch now, you can also get the greater benefits available from the cloud, which means you can work anywhere, anytime. Less stress, more savings. More opportunities.

Why wait?


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