The Landline is Dead. Long Live the Landline.
There seems to be a pattern to my recent posts.
Recently a friend of mine told me a funny story; all the family were at home watching TV and the phone rang. His very young son heard the sound and asked what’s that, after which the answer came, that’s the landline. In total innocence and what is now indicative of the world we live in, he responded, “what’s a landline”.
Many of us have that landline still active at home, and we don’t need caller ID either, because its only ever used to call us by one person, our mothers.
Last month, on the 1st July 2019, Open Eir (the wholesale operator of the Eir network) announced its intention to cease their ISDN BRA phone line service, or as its most commonly known, Basic Rate ISDN. It didn’t mention how many of these lines are currently active, but we can assume that it is significant, given that most small to medium businesses will have at least one Basic Rate ISDN connected to their PBX.
It means that any business currently using the service will have to migrate to a new phone service by the EOL date. They haven’t offered any suggestions on alternatives, but the most likely alternative is a VoIP service, which can be provided by many other operators, including Strencom.
This is probably the first in a long line of EOL announcements to come, as Eir are transitioning to a full IP network, which will significantly reduce their cost base and allow them to continue to be competitive. I’m a bit surprised that PSTN was not the first such service on the chopping block, but it’s probably a bigger task, as there are still millions of these lines active in homes across the country, and it may be a more difficult task to get this past the regulator. However, don’t hold your breath too long; once this has been sanctioned by ComReg, you can expect to see further announcements and the same fate for ISDN PRA and PSTN services in the future.
I believe that this is a strong indicator that Eir’s owner, French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, is in it for the long haul, which is of course a good thing for the industry and for business. While this action has been on the cards for some years, it’s now being executed and will deliver increased EBITDA for the French Telecoms magnate. This will also enable further investment in the roll-out of fibre services across the country.
While the announcement was made last month, we have a few years to wait before we lose that familiar dial tone. Open Eir will stop provisioning new lines from 30th Jan 2021, and from the end of 2024, all existing ISDN BRA lines will cease to operate.
Given the announcement, there is no real point in ordering new ISDN BRA services from now. And while there is plenty of time to migrate, there are many reasons to consider moving off these services sooner rather than later, the main reason being the cost savings that can be made from moving to VoIP and Hosted PBX services.
So, if the same EOL is imminent for PSTN, does this mean that landlines will soon be a thing of the past?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Landlines as we know them now, delivered over a copper wire with dial tone will most certainly be gone in a few years. However, we will still get a landline service; it will just be delivered in a different way, on an IP Network, over a fibre cable. Calls will probably be free, in the same way that you get mobile bundles right now, and you’ll pay a fixed charge for the service itself, it will also be integrated with your mobile phone, and it won’t be location specific.
All of this is already main stream for businesses right now, but many companies continue with the traditional landlines, ignoring the cost reductions savings that can be achieved by getting SIP Trunks or a Hosted PBX solution.
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