Hostcomm Responds to BT Plans to Switch Off ISDN By 2025

Hostcomm has responded to BT’s newly-announced ISDN switch off strategy. With BT planning to migrate all of its customers to IP-based telephony by 2025, Hostcomm is keen to help people understand their options and unlock the benefits of SIP technology.

“This is a huge step forward for telephony in the UK,” says Chris Key, Director at Hostcomm. “SIP VoIP telephony has been available for around 15 years – we’ve been providing it for ten – so it can be considered a mature technology. However, some businesses continue to use legacy technology for its familiarity. With a timeline now in place for the ISDN switch off, it’s time to make the move to SIP and start seeing how much more flexible, portable, and affordable it is.”

BT’s new announcement was made during a BT Group Q3 2014/15 results announcement, where CEO Gavin Patterson explained the company’s vision of a single IP core network to replace all legacy platforms. This will ultimately force all businesses to move to a SIP service.

According to Comms Business, there are still 3.2 million ISDN channels in the UK. Any organisations that still use ISDN can move to a SIP service quickly assuming their PBX supports SIP. Numbers can be ported from BT in less than four weeks, and a service provider should plan the transition to avoid any downtime.

However, some telephone systems do not support SIP, and these will be rendered useless when BT withdraws ISDN. In these instances, organisations can invest in a new premises-based SIP PBX - or take advantage of the opportunity to move to a hosted platform.

“Not every phone system and handset supports SIP,” adds Key. “But implementing a new on-site system requires a considerable investment of time and money, as well as specialist expertise. A hosted VoIP system is a quicker, easier alternative, eliminating the need for capital expense. We expect a large number of businesses will be looking at hosted options as they consider their options, and we’ll do everything we can to help them understand the benefits.”

A final option is an ISDN-SIP gateway, which converts ISDN interfaces on the PBX to an SIP interface. This can then be connected to any SIP provider over an IP connection, which could be a leased line or broadband. An ISDN-SIP gateway is a simple, low cost option. While some call features are lost during the conversion process, costs start from as little as £800 depending on the number of lines required.

“What’s important to us is helping businesses navigate the transition,” says Key. “We understand the implications of BT’s new goal, and organisations need expert support as they consider the options available to them. Over the next few years, every business will benefit from high quality, highly flexible telephony – services far above and beyond the capabilities of ISDN. That process of transition begins now, and we'll be preparing guides and resources to help people make the best decisions.”

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