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59. ISDN BRI-Friendly Provider In The US? ISDN PRI Options.    11/20/14  by Dave Immer

New ISDN BRI installations continue to roll along in the US, although I am seeing some orders being refused in suburban areas. CenturyLink seems to be the most ISDN BRI-friendly among the majors with reasonable rates, installation turn-around times and repairs, while Verizon falls somewhere in the middle. Frontier is becoming a larger player in the land-line market, having inked an acquisition  deal with AT&T in Connecticut and having acquired 4.8 million landline accounts from Verizon. Coming in last for supporting ISDN BRI circuits is AT&T, who’s pricing policy in some areas is so punitive as to discourage some users from even keeping existing lines. Of course, from a subscriber standpoint here in the US, we have no choice in who our provider is since land lines in most areas are owned by only one company. A quasi-monopoly sanctioned as a public utility.

On the other hand, ISDN PRI circuits are typically available with little resistance. Whereas a BRI circuit embodies 2 lines (B channels,) a PRI circuit gives you 23 B channels (the 24th is dedicated to signaling.) With the proper network appliance and function cards each of these B channels can be separate POTS analog phone lines, or 64kbps digital lines for use with codecs, or an ethernet IP connection, or any combination thereof.

For $500-$900 monthly you get the PRI circuit. The network appliance will run around $4000. Combined, this is a pricey investment for an individual but it may be cost effective depending on how often it gets used. A commercial studio would more likely be able to justify the expense, especially if located in the mid-western US where AT&T is already charging over $500 monthly just for an ISDN BRI circuit.

Let me know if you have comments about ISDN BRI or PRI availability in the US.