Channel Has Only Three Years to Make Most of ISDN switch-off, 3CX warns

Channel News

Failure to offer IP services to three million potential customers will cut off access to vital revenue streams

Resellers and service providers are at risk of missing a golden opportunity from British Telecom’s planned switch-off of ISDN and PSTN lines in 2025, IP PBX vendor, 3CX has warned.

According to Ofcom’s The Communications Market 2016 report, the number of ISDN lines in the UK stood at three million in 2015. 3CX says that when BT stops selling new lines in 2020, a large proportion of the businesses using those lines will have no option but to explore IP-based communication.

However, the company warns that with 2020 fewer than three years away, time is running out for the channel to adapt and begin educating its customers.

IP conversion

“With three million ISDN lines still in play, resellers or service providers with no plan in place to convert these customers to IP telephony are potentially walking away from tens of millions of pounds of potential income,” said Paul Clarke, UK manager at 3CX.

“The simple fact is that communication has moved on in leaps and bounds since the first VoIP calls in the 1990s, and the channel must be ready to allay any concerns that their potential customers may have. For instance, as the UK struggles to guarantee high-speed broadband across the whole nation, businesses in more remote areas may be unwilling to swap their well-understood, if slow, ISDN connection for a less-trusted IP connection. Similarly, a number of businesses may not see the benefit of additional services beyond voice, all of which could provide valuable revenue streams for the channel. Addressing these will be critical.”


British Telecom is not the only company to switch off ISDN and PSTN connections. SwissCom is also phasing out ISDN lines by the end of 2017 in favour of IP-based services. These organisations have been quick to make clear the benefits of IP lines; such as greater flexibility, higher bandwidth, and lower costs. They have also shown the potential to upsell a whole range of services alongside these new IP lines: from instant messaging, to video, to the management and support needed to keep services operational.

Paul Clarke, UK manager at 3CX
Paul Clarke, UK manager at 3CX

Clarke says success for the channel will depend on being able to both demonstrate the benefits of an IP connection, and allay customer concerns around subjects such as connection speeds. For instance, even an area with a limited broadband connection is likely to see better speeds than the 128kbps ISDN provides; in turn opening up more opportunities for services. He adds that if businesses don’t see the benefit of further communication channels, resellers must be able to show how much additional methods of communication can help their business.

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