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BT to end ISDN phone lines

From 2020 BT will no longer sell ISDN or PSTN lines to customers or businesses and from 2025 the technology will be switched off altogether.

BT has announced that it is to switch off all Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) lines as the company targets modernisation of phone and data lines. Crucially for organisations, ISDN and PSTN circuits still support the vast majority of business and home phone lines.

BT has stated that from 2020 it will no longer sell ISDN or PSTN lines to customers or businesses and that from 2025, the technology will be switched off altogether.

What are PSTN and ISDN lines?

PSTN lines are the traditional copper phone lines that have been used since the invention of the telephone. This 19th century technology requires costly infrastructure and faces limitations as to the distance that signals can be sent. PSTN is also very limited regarding the amount of data that can be sent across it.

ISDN in contrast was introduced at the end of the 1980s as a way of sending both voice and data information at the same time. When introduced, this new technology was seen as advanced for its ability to support basic video conferencing as well as voice services. However, ISDN has failed to keep pace with amount of data users need with the advent of the internet. Typically able to support speeds of 128kbps, ISDN is way off of the speeds of modern broadband (the UK average broadband speed is currently around 16 mbps).

It is for this reason that BT is looking to retire this old, expensive technology in favour of using modern broadband lines for calls as well as internet.

Transition to VoIP

The end of ISDN and PSTN lines will require the switch over to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems, which use fibre broadband lines to support phone and video calls, as well as internet services.

Many organisations have already embraced VoIP phone systems due to cheaper call costs, savings on phone lines and an overall more flexible phone system.

VoIP phones can be run off of standard Ethernet ports, or even WiFi if signal is strong enough. Phones can also be wired to run in line with PCs, so that both devices share just one port. On-premise VoIP is run from a unit hosted within a server cabinet, while a hosted VoIP system can see all connections managed from a cloud server.

For most organisations, the move to VoIP should be relatively smooth. After initial setup costs, most organisations will soon enjoy cost-savings against their old phone systems.

However, this doesn’t mean the transition should be left to the last minute – businesses with large numbers of phones may discover that port configurations, data cabling or infrastructure setup need improvement to support the changes.

For more information about moving your organisation over to VoIP or to arrange a demo, please get in touch: