Helping an IT/telecom manager sleep while the end of the world (for ISDN at least) approaches

If you’ve scrolled through any telecommunications publication or report over the last seven or so years, then it’s inevitable you will have come across an article around “end of life for ISDN” – the final chapter of the ever-so-dependable public telephone system that has loyally served us for 33 years as of 2019.

One small step for man, one giant leap for "telecom-kind"

For the end user, this ongoing evolution should have been transparent: the only expectation is to be able to pick up a handset (or a computer mouse), dial any number and, hopefully, be able to have an intelligible two-way conversation. How that actually happened is immaterial.

However, from a telco operator perspective, the migration from ISDN to SIP has been a huge transformation. While SIP may have been developed 20 years ago, it’s taken half that time for industry acceptance and now final dominance as the de facto communication standard. Compatibility and proprietary issues, differences in service levels, capacity management and just a plain old acceptance that maybe, just maybe, SIP could be as reliable and secure as the faithful ISDN.

Thus from an IT/telecom manager perspective, equilibrium needs to be found between the following approaches:

  • The “obliged migration” path: I have no choice because country X, Y or Z no longer offers it, and I will replace like-for-like ISDN with SIP
  • The “centralized SIP” path: I leverage on the end of ISDN to rationalize my corporate telephony providers and spend
  • The “cloud UC” path: I want a seamless unified collaboration experience for my users

Obliged migration vs. centralized SIP

The migration to SIP trunking within a corporate telephony environment needs to be considered in three steps: the core function of outbound calls; “partial unplug,” which adds inbound calls (“DDI”/“DID”); and finally, “full unplug,” which completely cuts ties to the incumbent by incorporating services such as emergency calling and non-geographic numbers (toll free, premium services).

The more traffic that can be moved to a common, “central” SIP trunk infrastructure, the greater the savings due to four main criteria:

  • Savings generated on traffic: the higher the volume, the lower the cost
  • Savings on local infrastructure: with “full unplug,” local equipment dedicated to voice is no longer needed. Voice is managed as a specific stream category on the SD-WAN
  • Savings from multiplexing: with about 210 concurrent call capacity on a central trunk, you can replace the equivalent of 10 sites each using 30 concurrent calls at peak times
  • Savings from standardization: unified naming conventions across all countries

Some SIP trunking suppliers even offer digital portals to place orders and implement most common voice operations live, helping IT teams focus on what matters: answering business requirements and ensuring top-level end-user satisfaction.

Bottom line, it is common to see a cost difference of -50% when implementing the “centralized SIP” solution vs the “obliged migration” path.

What about cloud UC?

While a move to SIP should be transparent to the end user, “cloud UC” brings improvements visible to the end user: seamless experience across devices, anywhere collaboration and even potential integration into their business processes. For an IT manager, this approach is very similar to the centralized SIP thought.

The time you have depends on your business footprint

While BT in the UK and Orange in France announced the end of ISDN for 2025, did you know that KPN in the Netherlands will be stopping its ISDN services on 1 September 2019 – or that for your new sales office in Melbourne, you are no longer allowed to place ISDN orders to Telstra since 31 January 2019?

In the next two years, it will be almost impossible to order new ISDN lines in most countries in the world, and by 2025 there will be less than 10 countries worldwide where ISDN will remain available.

The urgency to transform ultimately depends on your site location footprint and your corporate expansion/consolidation plans.

Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered

Orange Business has over 10 years of experience in delivering multi-country, centralized SIP trunking, with the “pièce de résistance” being our digital order and management portal, which helps you migrate and manage your voice services efficiently from your current voice setup into a smart SIP environment.

Vivien Boistuaud
Vivien Boistuaud

Vivien is responsible for driving and developing the transformation of the digital workspace for Orange Business European customers and alignment with key partners. He has almost two decades of experience in software development, sales, data and marketing in various fields such as medical research, information technology and telecoms. For more than 10 years serving Orange Business' international customers, he has focused on delivering innovative and customer-centric solutions.