We’ve all heard them – myths about the great ISDN switch-off. They range from partial truths to downright lies, so what should you believe?
It’s true that in 2025, BT will switch off its Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which transmits voice and data over copper wires. Fixed PSTN and ISDN lines will be replaced by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, especially Cloud Phone and SIP.
While businesses can still order ISDN lines in most areas until 2023, it makes sense to start thinking about your migration now and what your future needs might be. But what doesn’t make sense is to panic.
There are 3 million active ISDN users in the UK and BT is giving them ample time to find alternative VoIP based systems, such as Cloud Phone from easyNetworks.
We want to dispel some of the myths you might have heard about this transition, and help you find the solution that’s best for you – but only when the time is right.
Technical terms used in this article
- Cloud Phone is a a software application that lives across data centres known as the cloud. Your calls come through the internet, not telephone lines, so you will need a suitable internet connection
- ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. Used by many businesses to handle multiple lines to the same premises, known as ISDN channels. ISDN is part of the national PSTN (see below) and is also the older standard for allowing voice and data to be sent over the same line.
- PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network. This is the traditional analogue telephone network connecting our homes and businesses, which is being switched off in the UK and entirely replaced by VoIP and SIP (see below).
- SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. This is a technology that offers voice telephony over an existing broadband connection and can be a way for legacy phone systems to adapt to the ISDN/PSTN switch off.
- SIP trunks are the virtual version of an analogue phone line or ISDN channel, and can connect to your legacy phone lines to allow you to make phone calls via the internet.
- VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol which is the key technology that allows voice calls to be sent over an internet connection.
Myth 1. It will soon be illegal to use ISDN/PSTN lines
We hear from some clients that other telecoms companies have told them that prices will start skyrocketing, that ISDN will suddenly switch off without warning, or that it’s going to be illegal to use it. That’s complete nonsense to scare people into upgrading early.
At easyNetworks, we’re huge advocates of the new technology because it’s flexible and feature-rich, but we never use dishonest sales tactics.
Reality: you have time to plan your migration.
The switch is coming in the next few years and you will have to change by 2025, but if you have low call volumes and relatively few users, it makes perfect sense to wait until it suits your business needs, unless you need the flexibility of Cloud Phone now.
Myth 2. Cloud-based technology is less reliable than ISDN/PSTN
PSTN is certainly robust and reliable. And it’s true that 10 years ago, some SIP services left a lot to be desired, offering pretty poor call quality.
Reality: the technology is now well established, reliable and call quality is crystal clear, as long as you have a suitable broadband connection.
In remote areas with poor Internet access, you can install voice-optimised circuits which guarantee voice quality for a certain number of lines, but this is rarely necessary.
Bear in mind too, that BT is no longer investing in the update of ISDN, so service is likely to degrade over time as the majority of its network engineers move their skills over to VoIP.
Myth 3. Switching to Cloud Phone will be expensive
The hardware costs of a traditional phone system represent a substantial capital investment, so many businesses fear the worst when it comes to switching to the cloud.
Reality: easyNetworks provides Cloud Phone at a cost of £10 per user per month.
One of the huge pros of our Cloud Phone is that all call costs to UK landlines and UK mobiles are included, and there are no line rental, maintenance or upgrade costs. You will need a suitable internet connection, but you’ll quickly recoup set-up costs such as new handsets you may need, often even in the first year.
Myth 4. It will take ages to migrate between systems
Any business with experience of setting up or upgrading a traditional phone system will be wary of migrating to cloud technology. Some may have bad memories of re-programming call routes, allocating extensions and setting up hunt groups across the board while calls go astray.
Reality : the switch to Cloud Phone or SIP is rapid and painless.
Porting numbers from your existing provider typically takes 3-5 weeks, but once complete, the transition from the old system to the new takes just a few minutes. If your old handsets are not IP compatible, these will have to be replaced. However, you can run both side by side for a short time if necessary. You can continue to make and receive calls without interruption, and you’ll never have to get an engineer out to install a line ever again.
In the case of Cloud Phone from easyNetworks, we can set up the whole platform for you, or show you how to use the intuitive web portal that controls every aspect of the system.
Myth 5. You need to change your hardware immediately
This is a common myth made popular because cloud technology and on-premise systems are very different, but it may be possible to replace your existing ISDN and PSTN lines with SIP trunks and continue to use your existing telephone hardware while benefitting from savings on calls.
Reality: depending on which system you switch to, you might be able to use your existing hardware.
However, if you know you’ll need a hardware upgrade soon, it makes sense to plan it to coincide with your migration.
Remember: the cost-savings you’ll make by switching will quickly cover the expense of new hardware.
The realities of switching to VoIP
So what are the benefits, in addition to saving money? Cloud Phone and SIP Trunks are both very flexible. If you want to scale up or down as your business changes, it’s far simpler than installing ISDN or PSTN lines.
If you want to shift staff to remote working, it’s straightforward and quick to distribute calls to home landlines or mobiles. In fact, you’ll be able to make calls wherever there is an Internet connection or Wi-Fi signal, increasing your business productivity.
You also benefit from number portability if you move offices or want to use local numbers even if you’re based in another part of the country.
Why trust easyNetworks?
We’ve been in the business for over 25 years, providing telecoms for large companies, care homes and health settings, the education sector, construction businesses and SME’s. We’ve been part of the easy family of brands since 2019, so giving the best value is part of our DNA.
We’re technical experts, not salespeople, so offer honest advice along with fair, transparent pricing. When you contract us to migrate your phone system, we will carry out a thorough audit and advise you what you need and ways you can save money. For example, if you ask for eight lines but we think you’d be better off with four plus call queuing, we’ll tell you.
Plus, we offer monthly rolling contacts, so you can flex your users up and down as necessary.
In fact you leave whenever you want – our customers stay because they want to, not because they have to.
We hope this article has helped to untangle some of the myths around the “big switch off”.
When you are ready to for a chat, call 0800 1313 100 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to go through the options for your business.