Preparing for the UK's ISDN switch-off in 2025

The UK’s ISDN switch-off is scheduled for 2025, but some European countries such as Austria, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany have already ended their ISDN services. So, what can we learn from them?

How did Germany's ISDN switch-off go?

With a reputation for punctuality and efficiency, if any country could achieve a smooth transition away from ISDN, it would surely be Germany. 

Germany’s ISDN shutdown took place on 31st December 2018, but rather than a steady migration to SIP solutions over the preceding months and years, 60,000 phone lines were migrated weekly in the run-up to the deadline, causing a bottleneck situation.  

What’s more, the country was hit by widespread panic in the last couple of months as German businesses suddenly realised they weren’t prepared, and in some cases weren’t even aware of the impending change. This led to a number of businesses having to make last-minute decisions, resulting in solutions which weren’t suitable or cost-effective long term.

What are the lessons?

Learning from Germany, there are some clear steps to take if the UK is to avoid a similar scenario in 2025. 

Firstly, now’s the time for businesses to think about their requirements and research their options. This will enable them to ensure they’re getting the most appropriate solution and allow them to switch over as soon as possible to avoid last-minute panic and disruption. 

Secondly, it’s also likely to be more cost-effective for businesses to switch sooner rather than later. Switching can be straightforward and inexpensive, and offers a more flexible, efficient solution, so there’s no advantage in them waiting until the last minute.

Finally, rather than approaching the situation with the mindset of implementing a replacement solution, now’s the perfect opportunity for businesses to evaluate their current setup and really consider their requirements. SIP trunking offers a far greater degree of flexibility, opening up unified communications options such as mobile-first strategies and enabling businesses to use the switch-over as an opportunity to take a real step forward.

Key facts about BT's ISDN shutdown

  • BT will stop selling ISDN (digital) and PSTN (analogue) lines in 2020
  • These will be switched off entirely in 2025, by which time customers need to have migrated to VoIP-based services
  • SIP trunking is a service which can connect premises directly to the phone network, enabling the building’s PBX to send and receive calls via the internet

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