The ISDN switch off... What does it mean for me?

The ISDN switch off... What does it mean for me?

If you've been told ISDN is shutting down and are wondering what this means for your business or planning when you'll need to intervene, we're here to help.

What does turning off ISDN mean?

The PSTN and ISDN copper network began to be switched off in 2020 – with the aim of shutting down the network completely in 2025.

The PSTN (Public Switched Technology Network) is a traditional telephone network based on copper wires, which has hardly changed since the beginnings of public telephone networks. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a digital platform that came into use in the 1980s to provide what was at the time a vastly improved service capable of carrying not only voice but also video and other data.

Much has changed since the 1980s, and none of these technologies can provide the volume or quality of voice data required in our increasingly digital world. In the future, voice calls will be made over the Internet, often known as VoIP, using newer technologies such as fiber optic connectivity. However, many traditional telephone systems use ISDN, although some may use multiple lines (multiple PSTN lines) which will also be affected by these changes.

What do I need to do?

The current plan to stop the installation or addition of ISDN lines nationally in 2023 is in motion. Areas that have achieved high levels of gigabit network coverage are already in the process of leaving the ISDN network with 500 locations expected to no longer offer copper phone lines by August 2022.

The aim is to switch off the network in 2025. So you should start making transition plans and check when your existing telecoms contract and phone system maintenance are due to renew, although you don't have to limit yourself to just this.

You have time to plan and implement the necessary changes, although over time those still using ISDN technology will find that support will begin to decrease as there will be less ISDN - trained technicians available to fix defects and parts availability will decrease. The quality of the network will undoubtedly decrease, while the switch to IP increases the quality of the call sound, making it better for your customers.

So while you don't need to panic, if your phone is essential to your business, it pays not to leave the switch to the last minute. Take the time to make a thoughtful transition that can really bring many benefits to your business, and make sure the vendor you choose has the stability and technical expertise to support you.

What are the options?

You will need to upgrade to an Internet or VoIP phone system; this could be for SIP trunks (the technology that allows you to make calls over a data connection) connected to an IP compatible phone system – a halfway house – or moving to a fully hosted cloud system that gives you more flexibility. These are not brand new technologies and have been tried and tested, offering an opportunity to upgrade the way you communicate.

How long does it take to switch?

The process may take several weeks, but this will depend on your existing infrastructure.

Using a provider like TinCan will make the process easier as we will handle everything and take care of the porting process as well as work with you to ensure minimal disruption to your business activities during the ISDN shutdown.

Many businesses have already taken this step; the sooner you start considering your options, the sooner your business can take advantage of the benefits that a VoIP solution can bring.