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Obsolete ISDN Services Termination Scheduled

Notification of Discontinuation of Service:

All ISDN BRI services throughout Missouri State University will be terminated on March 31st, 2015.  The University's ISDN switch is now obsolete, cannot be placed under vendor warranty or maintenance, spare parts are not available, and no spare units are in stock.  If the device should fail again, it cannot be repaired.  Therefore, the University can no longer maintain the ISDN BRI services and a sunset of all such services will occur at midnight on March 31, 2015.

All users known to have used the service within the last two years have been directly notified of the discontinuance of service.  If broadcast-quality digital audio circuits are still required, Computer Services' Network and Telecommunications Unit will gladly assist in locating alternatives.  However, it has become very apparent that the industry is abandoning this technology, so ISDN BRI services likely either don't exist or don't exist at palatable prices.

Industry Abandons ISDN BRI Services:

Research revealed that most carriers have abandon ISDN BRI services.  Web searches for BRI services will result in AT&T ordering pages being displayed, but the phone numbers have been disconnected or now connect to marketing companies selling alarms and cruises in the Bahamas.  Calls and emails to AT&T have been returned with statements that the service is not normally offered as AT&T will turn-down their ISDN Network in 2016.  CenturyLink, Verizon, and other major carriers, appear have dropped or are dropping services.  Even where available, prices continue to soar and it appears that no new orders are being taken for the obsolete service.  As one example, see a related article from Radio World.  Some brokers may, however, still offer the services for considerably higher prices than in the past and at limited locations.

The demise of ISDN BRI is largely due to technologies that support broadcast-quality audio and video over the commodity Internet using sophisticated buffering and retransmission technologies that overcome unavoidable packet losses provided sufficient end-to-end bandwidth is available.  In fact, MSU just completed tests using such a technology with MVC and ESPN to broadcast Bears Basketball games!  This technology is both less expensive and more flexible than the disappearing ISDN BRI services.  Computer Services does not support nor recommend specific solutions employing these end-user technologies, but we can act as technical advisors to help clients understand the technical operation and limitations of a given technology.  One such possibility for broadcast-quality audio, for example, would be Source Element's Source Connect product.  While, this is a possible replacement for some services, is neither supported nor recommended by Computer Services.

Possible Alternatives:

  1. Clients must research and implement alternative communications technologies - BRI service will be terminated on March 31, 2015.  One such possibility would be an IP-based broadcast-quality audio or video software and/or hardware.  This is the best course of action.
  2. Clients may request the installation of a outside ISDN BRI service from AT&T or an independent broker.  Indications would be about $256 to $900 per circuit for installation and from about $200 to $384 monthly circuit fees.  Usage rates range from flat-rate to about 6¢ per minute.  Such services must be bid and may not even not actually be available or technically feasible and bidding the service is required by State law.  This is not a good alternative as service terminateions would only be delayed a year or two at the most.
  3. Clients may request that Computer Services invest in used parts for the existing system and agree to pay the ongoing line charges and one-time investment costs.  This option, if elected, must be considered temporary as carriers are dropping ISDN services and, as AT&T has stated, in two years or less they will have completely turned off their ISDN network.
  4. Clients may request Computer Services to reinvest in ISDN BRI technology.  While alternatives are being researched by Networking and Telecommunications, no viable solutions have yet been located.  Early information indicate our Avaya phone switch cannot be upgraded to support ISDN BRI and that independent switches will be cost prohibitive to purchase and maintain.  Given the industry is dropping the technology, this is not a reasonable option.

Next Steps:

Updates will be posted here, but service will be terminated on March 31, 2015 unless funded and extended as indicated in option 3 above.  The termination, however, is already scheduled to occur.  Alternatives must be located and implemented prior to this date.  If you wish more information or wish to discuss options, please contact Telecommunications.