End of the road for ISDN: Five tips for switching to IP telephony

All set for the future of VoIP

The days of ISDN and tra­di­tional tele­phone sys­tems are num­bered. Deutsche Telekom plans to switch all cus­tomers to Inter­net tele­phony by the end of 2018. Although some sup­pli­ers are giv­ing cus­tomers until 2022 to make the move, com­pa­nies should start their migra­tion plan­ning in good time now, because there’s sim­ply no avoid­ing the future of VoIP. Plus, IP tele­phony offers cer­tain advan­tages over ISDN. How­ever, com­pa­nies want­ing to ensure a smooth tran­si­tion should con­sider a few impor­tant points.

Espe­cially in day-​to-​day busi­ness, IP tele­phony ben­e­fits com­pa­nies in numer­ous ways, such as the increased flex­i­bil­ity offered by mobile work­ing and also a num­ber of addi­tional func­tions. For exam­ple, employ­ees who are out of office en route to a meet­ing, work­ing off-​site or work­ing from home can use the Inter­net to phone via their usual fixed net­work office num­ber. All they need is a soft­ware phone installed on their lap­top, tablet or smart­phone. The browser can be used to set up sim­ple call for­ward­ing or to block cer­tain phone num­bers, and with IP sys­tems, pres­ence infor­ma­tion, chats or indi­vid­ual mail­boxes are much eas­ier to use and bet­ter inte­grated within the sys­tem. The use of soft­phones also makes it pos­si­ble to set up var­i­ous inter­faces (e.g. to Outlook’s Exchange pro­gram). This makes it easy to select and call con­tacts. VoIP also offers flex­i­ble scal­a­bil­ity: IP sys­tem con­nec­tions, known as “SIP trunks” offer a vari­able num­ber of voice chan­nels with­out hav­ing to install a new net­work ter­mi­nat­ing unit or new cables. Com­pa­nies sim­ply add new chan­nels online.

Five tips for switch­ing to IP tele­phony:

1: Get rid of old relics – don’t be tempted to upgrade your old tele­phone sys­tem

Although it’s pos­si­ble to oper­ate exist­ing ISDN equip­ment on an IP con­nec­tion via gate­ways and routers for a tran­si­tional period, this isn’t a viable solu­tion for the future. ISDN sys­tems are obso­les­cent mod­els which won’t be fur­ther devel­oped. Rather than invest­ing in an interim solu­tion which can’t offer all the addi­tional func­tions of the new IP tech­nol­ogy and which won’t be able to keep pace in the long term, it’s bet­ter to switch to a new, pure IP sys­tem from the out­set. The costs of upgrad­ing a legacy sys­tem won’t nec­es­sar­ily be any cheaper and the sys­tem will become obso­lete in time. Instead of pur­chas­ing and oper­at­ing your own tele­phony sys­tem, it’s also pos­si­ble to pur­chase tele­phony as a cloud-​based ser­vice.

2: Lease – don’t pur­chase – IP tech­nol­ogy

The world of IP is under­go­ing con­stant, rapid change. To retain flex­i­bil­ity, it’s advis­able not to pur­chase a new sys­tem and to instead rent a local sys­tem or choose a cloud solu­tion. There’s not a huge dif­fer­ence in the respec­tive monthly costs. With a cloud solu­tion, the com­pany obtains the ser­vice on a lease basis and the provider updates the sys­tem in line with the cur­rent state of the art at its own estab­lish­ment. Your com­pany avoids asso­ci­ated main­te­nance and power costs. Tax deductibil­ity is a fur­ther ben­e­fit of a rental model. Unlike a one-​off invest­ment in cor­re­spond­ing hard­ware, the rental costs can be deducted as cur­rent costs.

3: Select a soft migra­tion of the new IP sys­tem and ensure busi­ness oper­a­tions run smoothly

Choose a provider that can offer a soft migra­tion with­out switch­ing every­thing over in one go. Dur­ing soft migra­tion from IP tele­phony to the exist­ing sys­tem, both tech­nolo­gies will run in par­al­lel for a time. The full tran­si­tion to VoIP only takes place once every­thing has been set up and all inter­nal tests have been suc­cess­fully com­pleted. This avoids a total mal­func­tion of the tele­phone sys­tem dur­ing day-​to-​day oper­a­tions.

4: Fast Inter­net con­nec­tion

Make sure you have a fast Inter­net con­nec­tion which is spe­cially designed for IP tele­phony; oth­er­wise, con­ver­sa­tions may break up or be com­pletely cut off. It’s advis­able to dis­cuss this with the sys­tem installer, who will be able to pre­cisely match the tele­phone sys­tem you require with the cor­re­spond­ing band­width.

5: Arrange for periph­eral devices to be tested

You should also arrange for the sys­tem installer to check whether and how periph­eral devices such as inter­com sys­tems, door­bells or lifts can be inte­grated into the IP world.

With its high level of flex­i­bil­ity and scal­a­bil­ity, as well as its use­ful addi­tional fea­tures, IP tele­phony offers numer­ous ben­e­fits for day-​to-​day busi­ness. Yet the gen­eral adage applies here, too: Buy cheap, buy twice. So don’t let price be your sole con­sid­er­a­tion when choos­ing an IP sys­tems installer. This will help ensure a smooth tran­si­tion to IP, enabling you to fully utilise the ben­e­fits offered by the new tech­nol­ogy.