The end of ISDN 2, ISDN 30 and analogue telephone lines
The analogue technology used for simple telephone lines dates back to the 19th century and while the equipment used today bears little resemblance to the telephones used then, the basic principles of operation have remained largely unchanged. In the 1960s and 1970s, digital technology was introduced into the telephone network, giving improved reliability and speech quality, but the connection between the exchange and the telephone remained the same, still using techniques developed in the 19th century. During the 1980s, the digital technology in the telephone network was extended to the customer premises with the introduction of ISDN 2 and ISDN 30. Since then, we have had the internet revolution and although both the internet and the telephone network are completely digital, they operate on different principles, resulting in 2 different and incompatible digital networks being connected to many if not all business premises.
Internet-based telephone systems
The internet is rapidly replacing everything that came before it and that includes the telephone network. Products such as Hosted VoIP deliver telephony over the internet and work anywhere where there is an internet connection available. Traditional telephone lines, both analogue and ISDN, will eventually be phased out.
Openreach's current plan is to phase out all ISDN 2 and ISDN 30 connections by 2025, starting in 2020. Sometime before then, Openreach will stop taking orders for these services, and it will become increasingly difficult to maintain existing services. At the time of creating this note (June 2019) we are not aware of any specific dates for our customers to migrate from ISDN to VoIP. It is now our recommendation that no new orders are placed for any ISDN services and that VoIP-based services should be used instead. We are now actively migrating our customers on to appropriate VoIP services, which are either SIP trunks or Hosted telephony.
We don't have definite information about phasing out analogue lines. The expectation is that from March 2020, SOTAP (Single-Order Transitional Access Product) will become available. This is a wired connection between the customer premises and the exchange that can be used by wholesalers to connect their equipment to their customer.
Existing telephone systems
Most of the current telephone systems available now are designed to operate with both traditional telephone lines and internet-based SIP trunks. In addition, adapters are available that allow telephones and telephone systems designed for the old telephone network to work with the various internet-based telephony products. This means that while all telephone systems will have to be updated to work with internet-based telephony, there is currently plenty of time to do this. We currently offer both traditional telephony and internet-based telephone products and can help and advise which is best for you if you are moving premises or considering upgrading.
High-pressure sales tactics
The planned switch-off of all ISDN services is being used by some sales people to pressure companies into moving to new services before they really need to. For more information, please read our article Known telecoms-related scams.