The benefits of UC

Author: Sian Hunter
Published on April 2, 2020

Unifying your business communications is more important than ever before. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting working practices, and telecommunications services providers such as Telstra beginning to disconnect older technologies such as ISDN services in Australia, many businesses may be thinking about migrating to a scalable unified communications solution in order to remain connected.

It is expected that cloud communication solutions will replace services such as ISDN, offering significant savings and flexibility for businesses. Voice services will be easier to manage remotely, and the same communications can be deployed across multiple locations for greater integration and resilience. Connecting through the cloud, rather than physical phone lines, frees employees to work remotely. Cloud solutions also allow for omnichannel communications, which are particularly important for businesses as customers increasingly expect to be able to contact companies by a variety of methods.

What is ISDN and why is it being shut down?

The first telephone networks, built in the 19th century, were made of copper phone lines that sent voice data. This technology makes up the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which has been used ever since. The integrated services digital network (ISDN) uses these copper wires to digitally transmit voice and data.

In Australia, the National Broadband Network (nbn™) is superseding older technology such as ISDN. The nbn™ is a nationwide project funded by the Federal Government. The project aims to provide every home and business with fast and reliable internet with the intention that any new telephone networks will now be IP (internet protocol) based. While this means that traditional devices that do not support IP services will not be compatible, there are many benefits to embracing this new technology. Similar initiatives are taking place around the world. 

Will my business need to change phone system, and what are the options?

Businesses with ISDN phone systems will need to make some changes, but these needn’t be drastic. In fact, the shutdown can be seen as an opportunity to upgrade organisational communications and save money at the same time. A transition to next-generation communications has the potential to increase flexibility as well as introduce greater functionality.

Many existing phone systems are compatible with SIP (session initiation protocol) solutions, which also allow organisations to add lines as required without the need for additional infrastructure. SIP channels, sometimes called SIP trunking, are easy to set up: the only requirement is a reliable internet connection with the bandwidth to support voice services, creating a virtual telephone line. A hosted IP phone system is a commitment-free alternative to an on-premise phone system. These solutions use an internet connection to provide the usual functionality of a phone system, without the maintenance charges associated with an on-premise system.

VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems are hosted in the cloud, and are easy to install and maintain as they don’t require physical hardware. These systems use the internet to carry voice data, without on-premise equipment. VoIP doesn’t even require physical phones: softphones can transform a computer into a phone using software.

Future proof your business

While moving your communications to an entirely new solution may sound daunting, the benefits well outweigh any short term (and mild) inconvenience. Modern voice technology like SIP and VoIP can offer huge savings, as well as greater flexibility, scalability, portability, and security. Soft clients on devices enable workers to take all the capabilities of the office with them, wherever they go. Where traditional phone lines required installation in new locations, with IP-based services telephone lines can be easily added and removed, and can be of a  higher quality. This future-proofs businesses for any growth, as handsets and portable devices can be connected instantly.

VoIP systems enable mobility through single number reach, allowing users to be reached on one number across multiple devices. VoIP can also incorporate a range of communication methods, such as video conferencing, email, and instant messaging into one solution. This consolidation of communication is referred to as unified communications (UC). Unified communications can bring cost savings and facilitate increased productivity, with users able to work from any location with an internet connection.

VoIP also provides greater potential for business continuity, as it’s not tied to any on-premise hardware. Calls can be diverted easily between locations in case sites are unreachable. UC that is completely hosted in the cloud is referred to as unified communications as a service (UCaaS). A whole range of communication and collaboration applications and services can be deployed through the cloud, and consolidating these services can often simplify billing into a fixed package; making costs more predictable.

To find out more about the kinds of services we offer that can be integrated into a UCaaS solution, get in touch with a member of our team today.

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