NBN & ISDN: What does it all mean for your phone system?

19 November 2019 

From the 30th of September 2019, the ISDN will start being decommissioned as it is replaced by the NBN. This means phone lines and numbers are being disconnected. Businesses risk being caught out as they will no longer be able to make outbound calls and will no longer have access to their telephone number responsible for inbound calls – leaving them with no telephone communication with their customers.

What is ISDN?

ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It's the network that supports our traditional phone lines and it runs over copper wire. With the NBN coming, this copper fire network is being replaced with new fibre optic and hybrid fibre-coaxial cabling.

The ISDN was responsible for both data transmission and voice calls. It rose to popularity due to it's guaranteed data rate of 64 kbit and it's ability to support multiple types of service. There are two types of ISDN service: Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI) which each have their own types of services. Both of these services will be carried together over the NBN.

What is the NBN?

The NBN (National Broadband Network) works differently to the ISDN, with a single digital data service used to carry both your phone service and internet. The NBN is a high speed broadband network, which is an upgrade to Australia’s existing phone and internet infrastructure. For more information about the NBN and your phone system, check out our guide to an NBN ready phone system.

The NBN is currently rolling out across Australia. To check if the NBN is in your area, visit the NBNCo website to check your business address.

How do I know if my phone line is ISDN?

Follow the wire from your phone or phone system to the wall. You may have a small grey Telstra box, known as an ISDN Network Termination Unit (NT1 or TA) or an on ramp. This connects a terminal device, in this case, your phone or phone system, to a communications network. From the wall to your ISDN modem, the BRI line is plugged in, connecting you to the current ISDN which is being disconnected.

Your phone bill may also outline what ISDN product you are using. Telstra have announced that the following types of ISDN services will be disconnected:

  • ISDN2
  • ISDN2 enhanced
  • ISDN10/20/30DDS
  • Fastway Megalink
  • Frame Relay

Still unsure if your telephone service will be disconnected by the NBN? Speak with a Telrexpert today on 1300 665 970.

If your phone service is not on the ISDN, you do not need to take any action. However, if you are on the ISDN, you must change your phone service or you will be disconnected and risk losing your phone number. Once the ISDN is decommissioned in your area, there will no longer be a network to carry your calls. You will not have any phone access.

What are ISDN alternatives?

If you have an ISDN connection you will need to add a high speed internet service to run your business phone. Most people will be moving to the NBN and this is a good option for many people as it can transmit data at a fast enough rate to run could-based phone systems (VoIP/SIP).

If you are in a metro area, you may also have access to direct fibre based services such as Business Fibre which offers an even faster internet connection. This is perfect if you are looking to add extra options such as video conferencing to your new phone system.

What should I do about my ISDN phone number and phone system?

We can help. We recommend getting started now, to make sure you don’t get caught up with a bottleneck of people and businesses leaving the transition to the last minute. You can avoid disruption and even potentially losing your existing phone number by being organised. There are plenty of options available to suit every budget and number of users you have.

There potential solutions include:

  • a hosted cloud-based phone system (VoIP/SIP)
  • a traditional on-premise phone system (PBX) or;
  • you may be able to use your existing phone system with an ATA adaptor

As soon as you find out your phone system is using an ISDN service, we recommend that you start planning your move away as disconnection of services has already begun and may be starting in your area. Telstra have stated that the ISDN change over will be completed by 2022.

Don't wait until it's too late - we can help you! By waiting until the disconnection is starting in your area, you risk being caught in a backlog of other ISDN users needing to get off the network. We understand how a phone system can be the back bone of your business, so it's important to take care with this critical asset to your office.

How can Telrex help with a telephone system?

Telrex can tailor a complete phone system that works for you and your business. With the removal of the ISDN, it’s a good time to revisit if your telephone system is doing all it can for your business. We can assist from advice through to products and installation including options like headsets and video conferencing set ups.

We can also help with reviewing your existing phone bill to make sure you're getting the best rates available. You can:

  • Speak with a Telrexpert today on 1300 665 970 or;
  • Contact us online and we'll get back to you within 1-2 business days or;
  • Use the live chat feature on our website to speak with one of our Telrexperts during business hours

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