ISDN alternatives: Four tips for switching to a new phone system
As the ISDN switch-off draws closer, it’s becoming increasingly urgent for businesses operating on it to switch to a new phone system. Internet protocol (IP) telephony, with its versatility and cost-efficiency, has emerged as the alternative of choice for companies looking for a new phone system.
If you’ve been considering migration from ISDN to IP, though, you’ve no doubt run into a lot of options, which can be difficult to sort through. Here are some points to consider to help you choose a replacement for ISDN.
Is your internet connection ready?
IP communications, such as voice over internet protocol (VoIP), rely on digital data to transmit audio signals. This means that without the right internet connection, call quality could drop. Issues could range from having a connection that’s too slow to one that’s fast, but burdened by high volumes of data transfer.
There’s no single set of standards to determine if your connection is good enough, but there are some rough guidelines. Run a ping test on your connection and see if it meets these parameters:
- Line Quality of B or higher
- MOS of 4 or above
- Less than 100ms Ping
- 0% Packet Loss
If it does, it should be able to handle VoIP calls.
That said, heavy data usage and other factors can still play a part. It’s best to consult with a service provider beforehand to determine if you need to upgrade your connection or get a separate one dedicated to calls.
How do you handle business calls?
If your internet connection is ready, the next thing to think about would be how you handle business calls. Consider these questions:
- What’s your typical call volume?
- Who answers calls? Specific people assigned to the phone or anyone free at the time?
- Where are calls usually answered? In the office or on the road?
- How much in-house telecoms technology expertise do you have?
- How does your team communicate internally? Are you split across different locations?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide on questions of hardware and software—which will, ultimately, determine what kind of system you need.
What hardware do you need?
IP telephony is flexible when it comes to hardware. You can make VoIP calls using your smart phone, desktop/laptop computer or through IP office phones, which work like their landline counterparts but with a few added features.
Choosing hardware, therefore, is all about how you want to go about working. If you deal with a lot of inbound business calls, for instance, IP office phones may be a good choice. Their dedicated call management features will make things easier. On the other hand, if your team works from multiple locations, a conference phone could make collaboration easier.
Keep in mind that not all hardware may be compatible with your service provider’s network, however. If you’re buying hardware from any party other than your telco, make sure it can be configured to work with their network.
What communication changes do you foresee?
You probably won’t see any changes as big as the ISDN shutdown for a while but that doesn’t mean your communication will be totally free of changes in the year ahead.
Take a look at trends in your business communications to anticipate adjustments you’ll need to make in the future. Look for a phone system that can adapt to the changes you foresee. These might include increases in call volume, new features to improve customer experience or productivity features to streamline collaboration.
Making your decision
Having considered these points, you should be able to narrow down your search. For example, if you want to retain a similar setup to your current phone system, you’d do well to consider a SIP trunking as an ISDN replacement. On the other hand, if your team needs more mobility for their work, a hosted PBX service would be a good alternative.