ISDN vs SIP Trunks: Avoid Being Left in the Dark

SIP Trunks

With Telstra discontinuing ISDN service sales from July 1, 2018 and shutting the services off completely some time in 2022, it’s time to start considering your options to keep your business’ phone lines up and running.

Maybe you just read that tagline and thought… what is an ISDN and why am I suddenly so worried about it? No doubt, as we approach the last date for Telstra to sell ISDN services in Australia, you might already have emails and letter drops from service providers wanting to grab your business as you switch over to SIP. If you’re trying to get around the technical buzzwords and scare tactics they might have thrown at you to get you to switch, fear not; we’re here to help you figure out when to switch, as well as help you find the right plan for your business under a new SIP phone system. Read on as we delve into exactly what ISDNs and SIPs do, and how you can prepare your business for the future obsolescence of ISDN technology in Australia.

What are ISDNs and How Do They Differ to SIP Trunks?

First of all, let’s get things clear: If you’re a business that only requires one phone line, you can quit reading right now – ISDN and SIP systems are for businesses that require multiple phone lines.

Integrated Services Digital Networks or ISDNs, work much like a traditional home phone line, integrating a voice channel and a data channel seamlessly over your copper phone line. After the copper line has made it from the telephone exchange building to your premises, they run into an ISDN unit, which runs separate channels to your PBX phone system. The benefit of an ISDN is that it is scalable; more lines can be added as you see fit, and more capable ISDN units can be installed. This of course comes at a cost, which can be detrimental if you’re a smaller business, or lucky enough to experience rapid expansion. Individual numbers can also be assigned to the phone, making it great for quick call transfers, or direct calls to individual teams and offices.

ISDNs are effective, but they’re old-school and over-time, cost a bit to maintain and upgrade. SIP Trunks on the other hand are fantastic in that they operate much the same as your router does, using the internet for phone connections (yes, you can still call old-school lines!), and they aren’t hardwired into your building.

This means that:

  • SIP trunks can be upgraded in a matter of minutes by speaking to your ISP
  • SIP trunks do not have wasted lines or channels – pay for the amount you need
  • SIP trunks don’t have call charges
  • Smart phone software can be used for central calls and call diversion
  • Voice quality can increase
  • You can keep your number when you move office
  • You’ll get a slight increase in either upload or download speed if you still use copper lines, as the amount given to the phone service can now be distributed entirely to the internet

Switch Now or Later?

You might already be getting pressured by your service provider or their competitors to switch over to an SIP plan. If your new tenancy has ISDN infrastructure, we strongly encourage you not to choose ISDN for a new plan – this advice is mainly for existing ISDN users. Whether you should switch immediately or switch later comes down to a number of factors:

Has NBN rolled out yet, or do you have access to a private fibre network?

This is probably the most important bit. If you have a large number of phones requiring a lot of bandwidth at any given time and NBN has not yet rolled out, or you don’t have access to a private fibre network, waiting until you get new infrastructure in your area is a wise idea. This ensures that your phones are getting enough bandwidth and the internet isn’t being drastically slowed down by a SIP telephony service.

When does your plan end?

Obviously, this is an important factor too. If you’ve just started a new plan and the ISDN infrastructure is going to be around for a few years yet, you’d be better off just staying, dependant of course on whether your provider allows you to switch at no cost and how much of your existing infrastructure you’re taking advantage of (e.g. if you’re paying for a 30-channel ISDN unit, but only use 5 phones, it’d be a wise idea to switch). Have a read of our Review before you Renew blog article if your contract is just about up.

When is Telstra removing ISDN service in your area?

As mentioned earlier, sales will stop to existing ISDN-equipped buildings from July 1, 2018 and all services are meant to be removed by 2022. But that doesn’t mean they’re cutting it all off in one go in 2022; they’ll be gradually removing the services in different areas of Australia from July 1, 2019, so check with Telstra wholesale or directly to your service provider to find out when your service will be getting cut off.

If all this sounds a bit too complex and you can’t stand the thought of talking to your service provider and organising the switch-over, give Six Star Communications a call. We’ll provide you with a tailored solution for your business and negotiate with service providers in your area to get you the best deal suited to your business, organising a seamless service replacement with minimal impact on your day to day operations.