Lee Underwood, Channel Manager UK&I at Snom Technology GmbH talks to SMEToday about the impending ISDN switch off and what business can do to ensure seamless migration.
In the age of hybrid and remote working, having the technology in place to ensure you never miss a call from a potential business enquiry is crucial. To achieve this, millions of SMEs still rely on an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) telephone line, which allows multiple callers to phone into the same local number and avoid an engaged tone. They are vital to reception areas, customer service lines, doctors’ surgeries – really, any business that is receiving a regular number of calls throughout the day!
Now more than thirty years old, the infrastructure of ISDN can no longer compete with broadband internet connection speeds which are much faster and more flexible. As a result, the ISDN network will be officially switched off in the UK by 2025, in favour of IP voice services. And yet many businesses have no idea that this change is coming, with more than three quarters of SMEssaying they have not made preparations.
To avoid disruption, businesses need to start looking at some of the alternatives available to them, as well as identifying potential obstacles early on. Here are some key pointers on alternative options and how to embrace a successful migration:
Identifying the business need:
Before looking at specific solutions, a good first step is to review your communication needs. In addition to the usual telecommunications channels, there is a plethora of options – from instant messaging and video conferencing, to the integration of mobile devices and related applications for voice transmission as well as collaboration tools for group activities.
Businesses need to ask – Which features are really necessary? How relevant are they to the individual user? For example, a garage mechanic will not necessarily need a chat function whereas a sales manager may prefer to be contactable on their mobile and/or landline using a single extension. Also consider what features may benefit your team. For example, a cordless IP phone will likely best suit workers who need to move between large buildings, such as a warehouse or logistics centre.
The benefits of an IP-based solution:
When looking at alternatives to ISDN, there are plenty of IP-based options that SMEs can explore including VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) which allows you to make calls on a global scale using devices with an internet connection. These IP phones have several advantages over traditional phones that can help businesses remain agile and flexible:
- Flexibility. IP phones are highly mobile as they can be relocated anywhere on an IP network and will automatically reconnect. This means users can use them in any location – which is a key priority for so many organisations today. Additionally, businesses can add and remove users whenever needed.
- Cost savings: This option also offers significant savings since international and long-distance calls can be made more economically over the internet or over your company data network.
- Enabling a remote workforce: IP phones can also be deployed remotely, enabling staff to work from home, in the office or in another location. Additionally, configuration of the phone can be easily changed if needed, making maintenance easier and less costly.
While the ISDN switch-off may feel far away, it’s essential that businesses start preparing now to avoid being left behind. A good first step is to find out when your ISDN contract is due to end or renew, so that you can build a timeline for researching options and planning the necessary next steps. Whatever option you go for, making the switch sooner rather than later can deliver several benefits for your business communications in this new hybrid landscape.