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60. Good Old ISDN Under Pressure   1/22/15  by Dave Immer

The ISDN directory can help a producer or traveling VO artist find an ISDN studio out of town. But nowadays all talent really needs is a mic, access to a fast internet connection and use of an IP codec software app or hardware device. Of course if the target studio is not compatible or the connection is not reliable, a bridge is required. The ubiquity of broadband internet and the new generation of IP codecs has reset the playing field.

While IP codecs have come into their own and work well (mostly), good old ISDN is still a requirement of many studios and talent. But we see standard ISDN BRI (Basic Rate Interface) lines start to disappear due to communications infrastructure in new developments that exclude copper wire as well as decommissioning of existing copper, not to mention the excessive rates some major telcos are charging these days. Technically, ISDN BRI service can be delivered over fiber, but it’s not cost-effective and some telcos are trying to make their BRI product go away for a variety of reasons, among which are BRI training, maintenance and programming: money losers and a pain in the neck.

The pressure on ISDN:
1. Ubiquity of broadband internet
2. Disappearing copper
3. Rising rates
4. Telcos eliminating BRI product

But ISDN PRI (Primary Rate Interface) is a different story. Delivery is available over fiber and it transfers much of the programming and maintenance tasks to the end user through the use of a network appliance. Some studios and talent will be able to justify the cost of PRI if it means retaining and acquiring clients. But PRI is not a practical solution for many single-user home studios as the basic cost for it is $600-$900/month + $4000 in network hardware.

Let me know if you have comments about the pressure on ISDN or your experience with PRI.