Telkom will no longer be installing or supporting copper landlines. What does this mean for organisations? What is SIP Trunking? What are their options?
An organisation's telephone system is the nerve centre of its communication infrastructure. The telephone system has evolved to offer more than voice and has come to include video, instant messaging, and more. Telephone systems are now largely software-based and come with more productivity integrations and features.
From analogue to digital
The telephone system used to be based on copper connections laid underground, connecting the organisation to the world. The advancement of technology has revolutionised how organisations connect with the world outside: it is no longer based on PCM(copper) but on internet protocol(SIP).
Using a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) connection, a PABX can use a private internet protocol (IP) network to deliver voice, messaging, and video. SIP trunking uses virtual phone lines rather than physical wires. It is a software-based system that can integrate applications to bring capabilities like video conferencing and CRM.
As with all software, the IP PABX must also be upgraded regularly. If the phone system is on-premise then it falls on the IT administrator to keep the software up to date. A hosted or cloud PABX will have its software updated by the vendor.
End of life PABX software
With the end of life of Microsoft server 2008, Windows 2007, and Java going premium, customers with old tech will not be able to function in a safe environment. Vendors have also reached a point where they are no longer supporting these environments.
This means that if a virus comes out there will be no support from Microsoft or the vendors so it is imperative for users to update their products.
Telkom's switch from copper landlines to SIP connections
Telkom is switching from copper-based lines to IP based SIP connections. The reason is that copper connections use old electro-mechanical switching technologies that have been active since the 80s. The technology has reached a point where it has run its course and the people, as well as the vendors who dealt with the technology, have either retired or are no longer available in the market. Everything has now moved to soft switches and Telcos of the world have to make the switch because these changes should have happened years ago.
Telkom will have problems fixing your copper line. This means that organisations are forced by default to switch to SIP as Telkom and other service providers will no longer support copper going forward. Everything will be changed to fiber in the future. Other countries have either started or even completed this change over.
Pros of SIP migration
- SIP trunking has low initial set up costs, and low running costs. So, the ROI on communication tech has increased.
- SIP trunking can be used in unison with cloud computing to give remote workers the same access to resources as those on premises.
- It is easily scalable. There is no need to buy extra equipment for future needs: with SIP trunking an organisation only needs to install what it needs and the technology can grow with the organisation.
- Setting up new locations does not require hardware. Simply turn on the VoIP network service and it's ready to go.
- Calls between branches or sites are free.
- SIP trunking brings with it unified communication capabilities such as voice, data, instant messaging, application sharing, conferencing, and so much more.
- SIP trunking uses virtual, not physical, lines so you can move premises and still keep your number Service provider dependent.
The low initial investments and running costs make SIP trunking ideal for SMEs. The ease with which the technology can scale up or down enables an SME to expand cost-efficiently.
Cons of SIP migration
- The quality of the calls is heavily reliant on the quality of the connection. Disruptions caused by latency and jitters in data transmission can be destructive to real-time applications like video conferencing. It is important to have an SLA with your internet provider.
- It brings with it new security concerns. SIP trunking uses IP connections so it is vulnerable to hacking, eavesdropping, denial of service attacks, and so on. Although the security issues are vastly different from those of copper lines, they can be managed.
- SIP trunking results in a shared bandwidth for voice and data. If the traffic is not segregated to ensure that voice traffic has its own dedicated bandwidth or been prioritised then there will be poor voice quality
Each of the cons for SIP trunking could be costly, but if managed well the risks can be minimised. Having quality-based relationships with the internet provider and vendors is essential in eliminating the above risks.
How to switch/upgrade to SIPAlthough it is understood that the switch to SIP is best, there are organisations which will present reasons why they can't do it. Reasons given for not upgrading are usually;
- Either there is no money or it isn't a high budget priority.
- A fear that some better tech is just around the corner, so it's better to hold on till then.
- New software is too complex to understand.
- Uncertainty as to what software to pick and the hardware it will need.
Nashua Communications is a tried and tested vendor. It will ensure that your organisation is fitted with the best and most appropriate communication tech for its needs. Nashua Communications also has a tech adoption programme for all the hardware and software it will install. It has the capacity to assist small or large, public and private organisations through the entire adoption process. Should an organisation decide it wants to upgrade its PABX system, Nashua Communications will;
“You can save nearly 30% or more per year by making this change, the pros outweigh the cons” - Johnny Kromer
- Plan and strategise with the organisation to decide which technology will work best.
- Install hardware and software across multiple branches.
- Initiate an adoption programme for the entire organisation.
- Guarantee quality service with a robust Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Organisations have many options if they want to upgrade in terms of the suppliers and vendors available. The main thing to note here is that as time moves on there is a risk that smaller suppliers get absorbed or disbanded so it is best to upgrade using an established service provider who will be able to provide continuous support.
The risks of not upgrading to SIPHere are the risks that an organisation faces if it does not upgrade to SIP.
- System failure. Running an outdated software exposes your telephone system to failure. Furthermore, running an end- of - life software will leave your business out in the cold, as there will be no support available should the system break down. Also, finding experience and expertise in software which is no longer supported is a redundant exercise.
- Incurred replacement costs. Trying to replace an end - of - life software after it has failed is an expensive exercise on its own. The organisation will be in a rush and will not have the time to carefully choose an appropriate product or vendor.
- Fewer features. Software upgrades come with new features that can bring efficiencies and cost savings to your organisation's communication.
- No integrations. Foregoing upgrades also leaves your software out of sync with new third-party software. IT is an ever-evolving industry, and it does not indulge those who do not keep up. Running old or outdated software will leave the telephone system unable to benefit from new technology releases.
“If you don’t act now, you’re not in trouble. If you don’t act in a year’s time, it’s your fault” - Johnny Kromer
Alternative uses for copper telephone lines
Although copper lines are outdated, organisations do not have to get rid of them completely as they still have uses. These are;
- As lines for fax machines
- Security alarms
- Emergency lines for elevators
- Lines for emergency calls to the fire brigade. A fire could affect the network so relying on VOIP in emergencies can be risky
- Critical calls to your internet provider or vendor should service be disrupted. If service is disrupted then you cannot make VOIP calls
- Credit card machines
- Can be used with a modem to access the internet in areas that are remote and do not have good network coverage
The reality is that one-day people will walk into the office and their PABX lines will no longer be functional. This won’t happen overnight but it is undeniably going to happen in the future as the major telecoms organisations stop supporting copper.
Need some help convincing your organisation to implement new cloud-based telephony solutions? Download our IT Manager’s Guide and we’ll help you get started.