Consideration should be given by every business in the UK to installing VoIP today. For most SMEs, employing up to 100 staff, the functions and features offered through installing VoIP can greatly enhance productivity. Per user subscription charges also make predicting operational costs very easy. With these subscriptions frequently including landline and mobile minutes bundles.
In 2015 BT announced that they expect to switch off the PSTN and ISDN networks by 2025. Customers will be migrated to IP networks that will ultimately replace all legacy networks and platforms. From 2020 ISDN based telephone services will no longer be sold.
What is PSTN and ISDN?
These acronyms stand for “Public Switched Telephone Network” and “Integrated Services Digital Network” respectively. The former carries analogue voice traffic over circuit-switched (copper wire) phone lines owned and operated by your phone provider. In the UK this local loop network is owned and run by Openreach.
ISDN allows both voice and data services to pass over digital lines. For example with a video conferencing service the voice (sound) and pictures are transmitted over the same data connection. ISDN digital services are sold in two ways:
- Basic rate services offer a customer 2 lines for each service purchased
- Primary rate services offer up to 30 lines.
In the UK if you needed more than 8 concurrent calls, equating to more than 8 phone lines, you will have bought a primary rate service.
So what does a typical business communications solution look like today?
Computing infrastructure will be connected to an internet service. Either a xDSL or FTTC (fibre) broadband connection or a leased line provided by one of a number of operators in the market place. In addition to the computer network a business typically has a telephone network installed. This telephone service can still be connected to ISDN. The one key benefit of this approach is that companies are able to keep in touch with customers and suppliers, via the telephone, even if their internet connection has gone down.
However, with the overheads of multiple line rental charges and CPS (Carrier Pre-Selection) based telephone call billing alternate solutions are available. These alternate solutions can maintain the resilience a business requires to stay operational.
The alternative – Installing VoIP (Voice over IP)
Installing VoIP based telephony will converge both voice and computing services over a business’ internet connection. It will reduce line rental charges by removing the ISDN costs from your telecom bill. Many companies are using VoIP already, not least because it’s a cost effective way to manage telephony within an organisation. With the right supplier being chosen, this solution offers a reliable, predictable and efficient method to combine all their communications requirements.
At most, to retain a resilient internet service, a business only needs to install 2 broadband connections. This is instead of 3, 4, 5 or more lines for an ISDN based solution.
Plan your move now!
For many BT business customers the announcement made in 2015 provides them with a great opportunity. Every business should investigate alternative end to end communications solutions. Migrating could be more cost effective for you.
If your business still relies on one of the near 3 million ISDN channels that were deployed across the UK what action can you take? How can you protect your business against the ‘BIG Switch Off’?
Check Your Contract
Check when your telephony contract is up for renewal. Think very carefully before signing up for an extended contract renewal. A new contract could tie you in to an inflexible solution, with limited functionality, for up to another five years. These are the following areas to consider when installing VoIP and that benefit a business:
- Cost savings – no ISDN line rental charges and fixed cost call packages. Enable predictable monthly spend, with free calls between your offices
- Mobility – remote workers can login to your VoIP from anywhere using an Internet connection. Even on their mobiles with the use of a linked App
- Multi-functional – as well as voice calls, VoIP can also be used for video-conferencing using a VoIP phone
- Simple Integration – because VoIP technology uses the Internet it is possible to integrate it with your other business systems. Including email clients or customer records systems
- Scalability – VoIP technology scales easily as your business grows. New phone lines can be added very easily. Phones can be reassigned to other offices or removed altogether depending on your business’ needs
Trusted Suppliers & Installing VoIP
Trusted suppliers of VoIP services, like The Stamford Telephone Company, will help advise on the best solution for your business. Support will be provided to you through the decision making process. A valued supplier will ensure that you have enough bandwidth available to combine your voice and data needs. Typically each IP phone will need 100kbit/s of bandwidth. This can be easily accommodated over an FTTC internet connection.
Ask about the phone options you have available with the solution supplied; and how each of these work. It is advisable for key members of staff to have a desk phone each. These will provide them with the full list of features available. For larger teams that are able to share VoIP subscriptions it is possible to supply DECT phones with more than one handset per base unit. Sharing a subscription, and the minutes allowance, will lower overall monthly recurring charges.
When should you migrate?
Now that ISDN is viewed as a legacy platform, investment in its maintenance will fall. This could mean that the standard of the existing network, and its support infrastructure, could begin to suffer well before the 2025 switch off date. Make a sensible decision for your business, but we would advise that you keep control and migrate to a VoIP solution sooner rather than later.
Five years before PSTN and ISDN lines are to be switched off, in 2020, businesses will no longer be able to buy any systems that use these networks; this is less than 3 years away.
Find a competitive supplier to talk to them about migrating your business telephone service today.