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ISDN Migration (Questions/Answers)

Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to transition away from ISDN by the end of the year. Do you know how long migration will take? Do you know how much the technology you’re switching to will cost? Have you even selected that technology yet?

Transitioning from ISDN to a new system doesn’t have to be difficult – but you do need to know what you’re doing so you can plan and budget accordingly. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about planning your migration, choosing a new system, and avoiding any predictable issues.

 

ISDN in Australia

 

It’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to transition from the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) – you know, your telephone services – to something else.

Have you figured out what yet?

Do you have a timeline for your transition?

…or are you dragging your feet?

While it’s understandable that you likely have other business matters on your mind, you shouldn’t procrastinate too much longer.

As of September 2019, existing ISDN services will be disconnected – it’s up to you to figure out where you’re going to get a telephone service connection from before that happens.

If you haven’t started doing your homework on it yet, don’t worry – we can help, as can your Australia IT company.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to manage a successful ISDN migration.

3 general tips for a smooth ISDN migration.

To start, keep the following in mind as we explore ISDN migration.

No matter what new system you choose, and when you choose to do it, the following will be true:

Give yourself as much time to migrate as possible.

In fact, six months is an ideal window for ISDN migration, but that deadline has already come and gone.

Regardless, migration can be very time-consuming. You have to research a replacement solution to migrate to, take stock of your equipment to make sure it will integrate with your new set up, and meet with the companies and their technicians that will be providing the new service (likely a third party and the National Broadband Network [NBN]).

If that wasn’t reason enough, then keep in mind that a common consequence of delayed migration is that you’ll lose your existing phone number. Just think for a second about how much it would affect your business to have to change the number your clients, contacts, and employee use to reach you.

That’s reason enough to start arranging your migration right now.

  • Verify your phone system’s compatibility. Make sure to double check that your phone system works with whatever your new set up will be. Some phone systems, especially if they are over 5 years old, may not be able to integrate with the new infrastructure.
  • Plan ahead. The migration you’ll be overseeing this year is enough work already, right? That’s why you should be thinking ahead about what you’ll need from telephony in a few years’ time. If you can foresee how your business may change as it grows, you can plan for the future and avoid going through further changes in a couple of years.

With these three tips in mind, let’s move on to determine your migration timeline…

How long until you are disconnected?

As mentioned above, all existing ISDN services will be disconnected as of September 2019 – however, that’s not necessarily the whole story.

It’s important to note that your business premises will not be disconnected unless you are NBN-ready. This is to ensure that you have the greatest variety of service providers available to choose from and migrate to.

If you’re unsure as to whether your location is NBN-ready, you can check right now on the NBN website:

  • If you are located in an NBN-ready area, begin your migration as soon as possible. Your first priority should be in finding a suitable service to migrate to.
  • If you are not located in an NBN-ready area, in theory, you could have until 2022, when the entire ISDN network will be shut down for good. But that doesn’t mean you should just forget about it until then.

As for specifically when you’ll be disconnected? You won’t know for certain until 90 days prior, at which point your ISDN service provider will notify you officially.

Again, it’s important not to wait until then. Ideally, you’d want more than 90 days to execute a migration.

This is one key reason why you should figure what service you’ll be migrating to, sooner rather than later…

What can you migrate to?

More likely than not, you’ll need to migrate to a Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) product.

Based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), SIP allows for voice, video and messaging over IP networks. When compared to ISDN, SIP offers a number of benefits:

  • Simple deployment. Setting up SIP should only take a matter of days. Once it has been deployed, adding new services to fit your business as it grows is easy.
  • Flexible. As an Internet-based service, SIP can be accessed and used from any connected location or devices, allowing for remote usage by employees that are out of the office.
  • Scalable. It’s easy to add or remove new phones without having to bother with hardware/infrastructure changes.
  • Continuity. With SIP, it’s a simple matter to reroute calls to backup sites, mobile devices or otherwise as needed if there are any service interruptions. Furthermore, in the long term, SIP will survive voice and data convergence and transitions, meaning you won’t have to migrate away from SIP to something else anytime soon.

Which SIP product is right for you?

Unfortunately, there’s no catch-all answer we can give you for this question. If you work with an Australia IT company, they can help you make this decision.

However, if you’re in your own, then you should know that choosing the right SIP product (and, as you may have already discovered in your research, there are many), will depend on these 4 characteristics of your business:

  1. Size. Many SIP products differ in the size of business for which they’re designed. This primarily comes down to bandwidth – the larger the business, the more bandwidth they’ll need. Often, the line of demarcation is 50 users – whether you have more or less than 50 employees will help narrow down which SIP product you should choose
  2. Type. Depending on the type of work your business does, you may need a specialised SIP infrastructure. This would be the case, for example, if you needed a single incoming number that diverts calls to multiple users, as is the case with call centers, retail stores, etc. Essentially, if the phone is a primary, high-traffic form of contact with your clientele, you may need something more than a general set up.
  3. Fibre connection. Whether you already have fibre at your place of business can help to narrow down your SIP choices. It would likely be in your best interest to simply migrate your ISDN voice traffic to the fibre connection.
  4. Budget. Depending on where you’re located, there may not be fibre available. If that’s the case, paying to bring fibre to your business will likely be the most expensive part of the migration.

Keep these considerations in mind when researching the many available SIP products – by asking these types of questions, it should help you narrow down your options.

Before we move on to explore successful migration (as well as what can go wrong), it’s important to address two of the most common questions associated with ISDN migration…

Do you need to buy a new phone system?

Not necessarily.

As mentioned above, any phone system more than 5 years old will likely be incompatible with a modern SIP set-up. Investing in a new phone system isn’t just an expense though – taking this opportunity to update your phone systems can provide a number of benefits:

  • No fixed line charges
  • Free intra-office call
  • Desk-to-mobile connectivity
  • Virtual receptionist services
  • Simple scalability

But that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new phone system.

If you really don’t want to upgrade, you could instead arrange for an existing phone system conversion. This is often the right call for businesses that don’t have the budget for a new system or have determined that they really don’t need one (or the features listed above).

If that’s the case, you can instead invest in a Network Termination Unit (NTU), which converts your voice bandwidth from the old copper lines to the digital systems. But you shouldn’t just elect for an NTU because it’ll be cheaper – consult with a Australia IT company if you’re at all unsure.

What will this cost you?

If it’s only a matter of a simple ISDN – SIP migration, the costs will come to approximately $600, covering a SIP trunk, the carrier modem, and the installation services.

However, there are other potential one-time costs as well:

  • SIP infrastructure and a compatible modem
  • New compatible hardware, such as a telephone system
  • Internal premise cabling
  • Professional services (technicians and engineers)

With all that in mind, there’s only one thing left to do…

It’s time to migrate – 3 steps to get your business ready.

  1. Take stock of your existing hardware.

    There is a range of hardware that may be integrated with your ISDN connection, all of which needs to be vetted for your new SIP services:

    1. Phone system – As mentioned above, you’ll need to audit your phone system. If it’s too outdated, you’ll need to invest in a newer one, or an NTU.
    2. Fax – If you’re still using a fax line, make sure to confirm that your new service provider can support it.
    3. VPN – If you use a VPN, be sure to talk to the provider and your new SIP provider to check about any possible disruptions.
    4. Unified communications – If you rely on UC for video conferencing, you need to check that your new SIP system will deliver the necessary bandwidth.
    5. Cloud – Check with your providers if there will be any disruption to services during migration.
    6. PoS and ATMs – If you host a Point of Sales machine or ATM on-site, you’ll want to check with the provider/bank to make sure they are compatible with your SIP product.
    7. Alarm systems & security – There is a range of alarm systems that may be connected to services via ISDN.Fire alarms, monitored security and cameras, emergency phones, medical alarms, etc. All of these need to be vetted (by contacting their providers) to ensure they will work on SIP.
  2. Plan ahead.Given that you have to undergo this migration anyway, it’s a key opportunity to assess other aspects of your hardware and infrastructure. It’s best to take advantage of this downtime and make all the necessary upgrades you can at once, in order to plan appropriately for the future of your business.When assessing your current IT in light of where your business may be 5 -10 years from now, think about the following questions:
    1. What do you gain from this upgrade?
    2. What’s the cost/benefit analysis tell you?
    3. Do you expect your business to grow in the next 5 years?
    4. Will you have additional locations, remote employees, etc.?
    5. How do you compare to your competitors in these regards?
    6. What are your speed and data requirements now, and what will they be in the future?
  3. Choose your provider.With everything else out of the way, it’s time to choose your provider. Keep in mind that this does not have to be the same company that installs your SIP.There are numerous service providers and Australia IT companies of these types available for you to choose from, so be sure to do your research, compare services and costs directly, and always keep in mind what your business specifically needs out of a SIP connection.

And there you have it – everything you need to manage an effective ISDN migration. But of course, it looks easy on paper.

What could possibly go wrong?

The 5 most common ISDN migration errors.

  1. Communicating through your service provider. A frustrating fact of this process is that you and your business cannot communicate directly with NBN Co., despite the fact that you’ll likely be moving to NBN as a part of the process.Unfortunately, anything you need to say to NBN Co. will have to go through your service provider.

    If there’s a problem with the NBN Co. technician’s services, you won’t be able to contact NBN Co. about it. All of it will go through your service provider, which can take a lot of time to manage.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it – however, in knowing that’s the case, you now know what to expect.

  2. You can’t modify your order. Another common problem is that a business like yours will place an order with NBN Co., and then realise something was overlooked. Unfortunately, you can’t modify an NBN Co. order once it’s been submitted.If, say, you forgot to order your fax line, or didn’t audit your phone system and determined too late that it’s incompatible, your only options are to wait for the order to be completed and fix the problem after the fact, or withdraw your order and start from the beginning.

    This is why it’s so important to audit your infrastructure and plan carefully before you place your order.

  3. Your order gets rejected. There are a number of reasons why your order may be rejected (such as a mismatched address, for example), but the worst part of this happening is that you may not be informed about it.There’s no system in place to notify businesses of a rejected order, and so it would be wise to follow up with your service provider to double check the status.
  4. Coordinating your service provider and NBN Co.Two key steps in this process are when the NBN Co. technician disconnects the old copper service lines, and your service provider connects the new digital lines.If these happen in that order, in an ideal timeframe, you’ll encounter minimal downtime.

    If they happen out of order, or if there’s a long delay between the former and the latter, your downtime will be a lot worse.

    That’s why it’s important to make sure that your service provider is scheduling their technicians and the NBN Co. technicians concurrently.

  5. Untested post-migration errors.Unfortunately, there is no test to make sure that your new set-up is working correctly. It’s left to you to use it and see.If it’s not working right? Then you need to report it to your service provider, who will arrange for a technician to come fix it, which could take an additional 3 – 7 days. Do what you can to plan for that kind of delay, should it occur.

Are you ready to migrate?

That’s only for you to know.

As explored above, there are a number of factors contributing to how long migration will take, what SIP product you should migrate to, how much it will cost, and so on.

You’ll know when you’re ready to migrate – a more important question is whether you should try to handle it on your own.

It’s an undeniably complicated process, with a lot of obstacles to success. If you have the time to do your research, the knowledge to ask the right questions, guarantee the right services, and mitigate any errors, then you could possibly do it on your own.

But that’s a lot of “ifs”.

That’s why some business chose to work with an Australia IT company like Steadfast Solutions. Our team has experience with migrations like these and can help you plan accordingly and avoid common errors.

Like this article? Check out the following blogs about Australia IT and telephone systems to

learn more:

Challenges With Australian Data Centres (Top Questions)

Australia Property Developer Works With Steadfast For Hosted Telephone Services

Moving Your Phone System To The Cloud

Published on 31st May 2019 by Ian Brady.

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