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It’s comms, Jim, but not as we know it

People have been forecasting the demise of the PSTN for many years now; well over a decade.

Of course, the trouble most product managers have in making such predictions is inaccuracy. It’s almost ten years since shipments of IP lines overtook TDM lines and it’s over five years since any equipment manufacturer (what we used to call TEMs) spent any development dollars at all on TDM-based development. And still what we like to call the legacy network persists.

Maybe now, however, we’re closer than ever before to the end of ISDN.

I say that, because there has been a lot of pertinent news activity in Europe over the last 12 months or so. The newswires have reported several telecom operators announcing their intention to terminate ISDN access, in favour of its replacement with SIP trunking.

In Germany, for example, Deutsche Telekom appears to have made public a strategic program (Telekom Deutschland 2018 – TD18) to switch off all its ISDN connections in 2018. The telco intends to replace them with universal IP connections. Swisscom may be likely to follow suit.

If such a strategy becomes widespread, many businesses will be under pressure to future-proof their telecoms installations. And that pressure will come from what is really a very short timeframe.

If you think 2018 is far in the future, think again – it’s only 22 months until we celebrate the festivities heralding that New Year.

In plain language, all manner of businesses and enterprises and organisations will have to do some serious thinking over the next few months about their strategic plans for communications.

The options for businesses range from a ‘fork lift’ upgrade, replacing their legacy system with an all-IP solution and a direct connection to SIP trunking, through to the installation of protocol converters or gateways between their existing PBX equipment and the new SIP trunk offerings from telcos and service providers.

The former is deterministically strategic, whilst the latter options are more short term and tactical. However, in that latter case, if your connection to the PSTN is SS7-based, gateways are probably still a medium term solution and, therefore, a reasonable investment.

Regardless of your market sector – healthcare, education, public safety, contact centre, vertical market private enterprise – now is very much the time to think strategically about your next generation communications.

If you are say a vendor or service provider, you may want to talk about IP-based telephony resources for your solutions. There are many hardware, software and cloud-based options to discuss. For those considering gateways, several options are available.

Whatever you do, act now, before it’s too late.

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