First and foremost, PSTN becomes legacy in 2020 with a plan to turn it off in 2025. So no new PSTN customer from 2020 and no new lines for existing customers from 2020.

For existing customers, there is a lot of advice being banded around for this, largely informing customers there is a need for a big change, most of it is untrue.

The reality is simple

If you have a business reason for replacing your phone system, as part of a growth exercise, or to enable further functionality, then it is worth considering that you should opt for a SIP trunk or Hosted PBX solution and you should not invest in a solution that involves ISDNs or Analogue lines.

In this article we will be looking at the following

  1. Untrue advice being given out around this change
  2. Whether VoIP services will be cheaper for you
  3. What you actually need to change to make your existing equipment work
    • We will provide working low cost solutions for you to make the move for a variety of different scenarios
  4. The services you have that will be significantly impacted by this change
    1. Lift Lines
    2. Alarm Lines
  5. Some other areas where we just don’t know what the impact is, like Insurance policies in relation to the above 2 items.

So where does the advice being pumped out right now pertain to, simply, a lie?

Again, that reality is simple, people are being told they need to replace equipment by certain providers, but truth is

If you have an existing system, and due to the requirement of the PSTN switch off you either require additional lines or you need to transition to a VoIP solution, you do not need to replace any of your equipment.

That is a reality whether your phone system is 40 years old, or you only have some analogue or feature lines delivered to your premises.

Two terms before we get into the thick of it

Hosted VoIP solution = This is where you get handsets or soft phones and you don’t have an on-site phone system. Your phone system is managed on the providers network to give you the same functionality as if the phone system was at your location.

SIP Trunk Solution = This requires a phone system on site and instead of having analogue lines or ISDNs, you have SIP Trunks. Each SIP Trunk is the equivalent of a phone line or an ISDN channel.

Hosted VoIP and SIP Trunk solutions are cheaper.

This is one of the larger misconceptions, as it is only cheaper in certain scenarios.

First off, this statement is based off of call charges, not rental. So if your call volume is low, you may not see any savings at all, in fact rental can be substantially larger if you get pushed down the wrong route by a provider so can result in more cost for you.

So let’s take a scenario

1. Your current broadband provider is not BT

2. Your current phone line provider, either directly or through resale, is BT

3. You have an on-site phone system with 20 handsets, 4-6 lines

If this is you, then you may not see a saving, in fact you may see your monthly rental increase.

BT are offering SIP trunk rental (basically a new equivalent of a phone line) for around £13 per month per channel

But, it must be on their broadband service, roughly £50-£80 per month

So in this scenario, you cannot just take SIP trunks and make a saving, in this scenario you would have to

  • Terminate your broadband with your current provider
  • Get BT Broadband and SIP trunks
  • Have your SIP trunks and computers operating off of the same BT Broadband line

This is simply because, if you have to have a dedicated broadband line for a SIP or VoIP service that is not also used for your computers, this increases your line rental when compared to the traditional services as you have Line Rental + Additional Broadband Rental for dedicated broadband for your phones.

So for most businesses, whomever provides your broadband, whether BT or not, must also provide your VoIP or SIP service on the same line as the computers, otherwise you will find that your monthly rental has a significant increase.

So in most cases, where a VoIP provider states “You must use our line”, it will increase your cost, and there is no valid reason for using their broadband service, as VoIP services can run over any broadband service.

Now, a lot of people that are saying VoIP is cheaper is based on current business statistics for people who have transitioned to VoIP previously, we need to consider a few things here

1. As a Business, if presented two solutions, would you take the most expensive service if there was not a significant benefit?

What we can say about people who have moved to VoIP or SIP is that for those customers, the traditional solutions likely cost more or there was benefit to be had they could not get on traditional solutions.

But that is all it means, people who have not already transitioned may have been met with quotes for services that were substantially higher than what they are paying now (I have seen a fair few)

The statistics published are purely based on people who have moved, not including people who have been quoted for VoIP but due to cost of the VoIP solution, rejected that quote.

What is also interesting is that a lot of providers push the need for a dedicated broadband line and if you are in a poor performing broadband area, you may legitimately need an additional line, this is not considered in the cost comparison that has been done to date.

So the most likely people to have moved to date would have high call volumes and access to decent broadband.

2. The previous options for a cheap transition to VoIP have been back benched.

These are still available, if you hunt around, but this is where the concept gets interesting.

Over the last 10-12 years I have worked for traditional and VoIP customers and providers, the concept of VoIP was

“You don’t need to replace any equipment to move to VoIP to benefit from savings in call charges and cheaper line rental”

These solutions are increasingly difficult to find, and for a lot of them, it seems that the price for SIP trunks has been increasing since BT announced their switch off of the PSTN network. Even BT SIP trunks are £13 per month each, about £3-4 more than I would fairly price them, then about £6-7 more than they need to charge.

Because they should be getting cheaper, so if the trunk could have gone for about £10 a few years back and now we all need either a SIP trunk solution or a Hosted VoIP solution, you would have thought that the price would be coming down not going up.

3. You have access to decent broadband without a data allowance

So for normal people, a Media Codec should simply be considered the quality of the call and the bandwidth requirement.

So 1GB Download is roughly 500 minutes of talk time, codec dependent, but let’s say it is on the highest codec or level of quality.

Now a lot of people calculate this as 1000 minutes, they would in some cases be doing this wrong, the reason being is that in a data plan what you can often find is that your “Data Allowance” isn’t download data only, but upload as well.

Voice calls use the same amount of download and upload, the data usage is consistent as it is the equivalent of a live streaming service.

A lot of services that are available to people do have a download limit, quite often when in a poor broadband area for fixed line services.

So if you have a data allowance, then you need to know the Codec on your services being provided and how this relates to talk time.

This is when you make or receive calls, so for a business it is quite easy to rack up some talk time, dependent on how many of you there are. Then you pay call charges on top.

4. You need a dedicated broadband service for the solution

Not true and never has been, but it actually adds a substantial cost to the consumer.

Often this is done or sold under the guise of quality.

However, what you really need is a semi decent router that can handle Device Bandwidth Management at a low enough level in your infrastructure, usually MAC address level would work generically for any service or set up.

The Bandwidth Requirement for a VoIP or SIP solution is minimal, this requirement is all based off of concurrent call volume and what we want to do is segregate a small amount of bandwidth to prevent computers from impacting phones.

So the highest Media Codec, without any compressing, would require for a single phone call

128kbps upload

128kbps download

Hosted VoIP Solution

If you have 10 handsets then for all handsets to be talking to off site people at the same time, you would require roughly

1.2mbps upload

1.2mbps download

However, if you generally only have 4 calls at a time for all of your handsets

½ mbps upload

½ mbps download

SIP Trunk Solution

No different for data requirement, each SIP trunk you have with concurrent call activity has the same usage per the above, it is guided by the codec.

On the next page we will have a look at where the Myth of needing a dedicated broadband line comes from

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