Since the BT Group CEO Gavin Patterson announced last year that there is the intention from BT to migrate all customers to the IP network by 2025 I have been asked a few times what this means for our clients still on ISDN, and whether it means options are limited for new system purchases.

  • Should I be worried if currently using a digital phone system?

 Honestly, I would say no not at this moment in time – 2025 still gives 9 years until a switchover will be forced – the average lifespan of a phone system is approximately 7-10 years, so whilst it is definitely worth speaking to your provider about – I wouldn’t base a system purchase purely on this factor. If voice over IP doesn’t suit your requirements, then it is certainly not something that should be forced at this stage.

  • Will a phone system be able to support both technologies?

 This depends on the system purchased but yes it is certainly a possibility. All the Mitel systems that we provide are truly hybrid, so work with analogue, digital, and SIP (voice over IP) phone lines, or as many do – a combination of the three. This means that if a company currently runs ISDN or is tied into a contract but is looking to upgrade, it is possible to run a system on this, and transition to Voice over IP when ready.

  • Will the IP network be truly ready by 2025?

 I would hope so! As SIP runs across an internet connection the quality is totally reliant on the connection itself. Even over the last few years we have seen a drastic shift in network qualities and where previously we would have been reluctant to provide SIP channels on anything but a Leased Line – we are now comfortable providing SIP on a broadband connection – providing this is a dedicated connection and has a product which stabilises the connection. Whilst a single 1Mb connection can in theory cope with 10 concurrent calls, if this is shared on a data connection, or has a poor upload speed you can almost guarantee there will be problems. In addition, you need to ensure the quality of the SIP provider and their network as this can have an influence, and if using a hosted system, research the system and provider as there are all factors external to the broadband connection.

  • What are the benefits of IP?

There are numerous benefits to an IP based system, I will blog about these in more detail in the near future, however to give a brief overview these include:

  • Lower costs line rental (over 50% savings in many cases) and reduced call charges
  • Free calls to remote workers and between sites on the same network
  • No geographical location requirements for number (e.g a London/Manchester/California number may all point to an office in Leeds)
  • Reduced install times – an additional ISDN2 line can take up to 6 weeks to install, but an additional SIP Trunk can be installed in days.
  • Disaster recovery – if an office has major issues which mean phone lines/internet goes down, automatic failovers can be implemented so that numbers will instantly divert to other locations without any loss in service.
  • I am looking to upgrade my phone system, what should I consider?

 As previously mentioned, the changeover is in 9 years’ time so whilst urgency is not yet key it is a major factor to consider. In all new systems that we provide we do a comprehensive factfind, and providing certain criteria are met, we would usually recommend VoIP to be the primary solution. It is however recommended on a case by case basis, and with some offices in Leeds City Centre for example still not having access to broadband – you can imagine that it is not always the optimal solution!

If you are worried about the cut off date, looking to change, or simply want to learn more please do send us a tweet to @TimeTele or call us on 0113 2059640