Have you considered moving your business telecoms to the cloud? Are you aware of the ways telephony technology is changing and how this could impact your business? You may have heard phrases like ‘the end of ISDN’ and ‘network updates in your area’ being discussed in your office or between your colleagues, but it’s important to understand what they actually mean and why companies across the UK are moving to internet-based phone systems.
How is telephony changing?
BT Wholesale, a division of the UK telecommunications company BT Group, has announced that by 2020 the aim is that customers will no longer be able to purchase Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) circuits. PSTN and ISDN are the traditional phone lines that the majority of us use to communicate over the phone.
So it’s really a big deal that BT is proposing that these circuits will be switched off by 2025 and that businesses will have to move to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone systems instead.
Although, it’s partly unsurprising that BT is making this move. After all, PSTN is dated technology which sees analogue voice data flowing over circuit-switched copper phone lines.
However, things are a bit different with ISDN. This technology is more recent and delivers both voice and data services over digital lines at the same time. Whereas once ISDN was the preferred choice for video-conferencing and fast internet connections, it has now been overtaken by more recent innovations like fibre broadband.
Still, maintaining legacy networks is very costly and BT needs to move with the fast pace of communications technology, while still giving businesses enough time to make the switch.
When the ISDN switch off happens, PSTN and ISDN circuits will be replaced by VoIP systems and your business needs to start thinking about how you’re going to prepare.
What options does your business have when switching from traditional landlines?
Your business has a couple of options when it comes to changing to a VoIP system. You can either opt for a hosted system or you can see if you can upgrade your existing phone system so that you can connect it to your broadband connection.
With a hosted system, your business’ calls will be made over the internet and you won’t need telephone system hardware other than handsets, dedicated telephone lines or specialised engineers. With a hosted voice system, your business will be able to enjoy cheaper call rates, free site-to-site calls, the ability to pick up calls across multiple devices and the facility to add users quickly and easily while benefiting from HD call quality and recording. Your business phone system will become more scalable and flexible to your company’s needs.
If you choose to keep an on-premises business phone system and upgrade your existing set up, you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of VoIP, such as scalability, HD quality calls and cost savings. Instead of PSTN or ISDN circuits however, your business will need SIP Trunks. virtual telephone lines that create a phone line over your internet connection. SIP trunks are great for flexible working, have built in disaster recovery and can be scaled up or down without the need for additional physical line installation.
What do you need to do now?
The best place to start is to begin researching VoIP systems. Get familiar with the benefits and additional features of VoIP, hosted and SIP technologies and start reading about and make yourself comfortable with all the terminology.
Perhaps most crucially, check that you have a good internet connection. If you’re going to be making and receiving business critical calls over the internet then you need to be sure that your connectivity is fast enough to cope and that your calls aren’t going to drop.
You can also check if your business telephone system already supports VoIP, which many new office phone systems do. Even though there is no rush to make the switch, you may want to check the terms of your contracts, see if you can make cost savings by switching early and work out when will be a good time for your business to make the change.
There is no need to panic though. Whether or not BT stick to the 2025 target, there is a lot of progress that needs to be made for the switch off to become a reality. The UK will need to see a full fibre rollout, increasing our connectivity and BT will have to ensure that the 33.2 million fixed landlines in the country are catered for. As a business, the best option is to familiarise yourself with the new technology and speak to your business telecoms provider about how to modernise your system.
This article comes courtesy of Network Telecom, the business telecoms and IT services provider.