How to future-proof your telephony system with Jisc’s session border control cloud service.
BT is retiring its analogue phone network in 2025 and everyone – yes, everyone - will move to fully digital telephony.
When the old public switch telephone network (PSTN) closes, every voice call in the UK will instead be routed over Internet Protocol (IP).
The education sector needs to prepare for this upcoming challenge by starting the move to digital services now.
Are campuses ready for cloud-based telephony?
With blended learning on the rise and the use of unified communications (UC) platforms increasing, many universities and colleges are going to struggle when it comes to supporting high- quality voice over IP (VoIP) calling for users.
Legacy campus telephony services are difficult to integrate with widely used collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and can be expensive to maintain. Institutions therefore urgently need a migration path to a cloud-based alternative, which will reduce cost and risk.
The most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring a secure bridge and interoperability between systems is to use a session border controller (SBC). SBC enables institutions to transform their telephony by allowing Teams to perform the function of a phone system in a familiar and widely established platform. To make the transition from legacy platforms and on-premise infrastructure to a fully managed alternative as easy as possible, Jisc has introduced SBC as a cloud service.
Integrating campus telephony with the cloud
There’s no question that shifting to cloud telephony and a UC platform boosts collaboration, reduces costs and makes maintenance easier for IT teams. But how does the education sector get to this point?
Jisc’s cloud-based SBC offers an easy route towards transforming campus telephony prior to the switch-off of analogue lines in 2025. By building a hosted SBC infrastructure into the core of the superfast and highly reliable Janet Network, Jisc now provides members with access to high quality digital voice communications over a stable, well-established connection.
Using Jisc’s SBC service, institutions can enable high- quality VoIP calls through Microsoft Teams, turning the app into a softphone client. This can deliver cost savings over existing telecommunications contracts and provides members with a fully integrated telephony experience within their chosen collaboration tool, wherever they are.
What exactly is SBC – and why you need to know
SBC is a critical aspect of cloud telephony infrastructure that offers enormous benefits to organisations in terms of security and functionality as well as interoperability with Teams and traditional private branch exchanges (PBXs).
Think of SBC as a middle-man – a single point from which to manage, administer and protect a VoIP network. It provides granular control, ensuring that calls are prioritised and delivered correctly.
By monitoring traffic and optimising where it gets routed, SBC can significantly increase data transfer speeds, making communications more reliable and consistent. SBC boosts security and availability: monitoring of call data enables proactive investigation of faults, ruling out points of failure during the path of a call to narrow down the root cause faster. It also serves as a firewall for VoIP traffic, hiding the network architecture and blocking traffic from unknown IP addresses to make it more difficult for malicious actors to gain access.
Sounds complicated? It’s not
While implementing an SBC may sound complicated, Jisc provides all necessary help and advice on setting it up.
Prior to the porting date (when the service goes live at the user site) Jisc’s onboarding group works with the customer to ensure a smooth transition. Jisc cloud professional solutions are also available to assist as required with configuring the MS Teams environment.
In a series of workshops, all considerations and options are discussed so that supported decisions can be made on call flows, user settings and the overall end-user experience.
Digital telephony can be configured prior to moving phone numbers, ensuring that every part of the system is pre-set and ready to use when the porting date arrives.
To help public sector users achieve maximum commercial value, SBC is also available from 9 November through the G-Cloud 13 procurement framework;
There’s an exciting roadmap for this new service and we are keen to see the benefits it brings and how the service might grow to support the education and research community further. And it will not be limited to Microsoft Teams.
In the future we will look at integration of other platforms common in education and research such as Zoom. So, when the analogue switch-off does take place, institutions that have taken advantage of SBC will be well-placed to make the transition seamlessly.