Are you affected by Telekom's change of strategy (ISDN)?

Analog telephony was used for a hundred years, until the introduction of ISDN, when in this country the Deutsche Bundespost began to digitize its local exchanges at the beginning of the 1980s. The next generation change is now due at the turn of the year 2018/19: As part of its all-IP strategy, Deutsche Telekom will again switch off ISDN lines, terminate all customer contracts and switch to IP-based solutions.

The communication of hundreds of thousands of companies in Germany is affected, because they use ISDN by far not only for pure telephony, but also for data transmission. For example, many use the telebox as the classic mailbox system of Deutsche Telekom for their EDI communication. Messages are exchanged via BusinessMail X.400, to which the ISDN network was previously a preferred access method. If the ISDN connection is now dropped, but the EDI solution is dependent on ISDN, the Telebox is suddenly unavailable.

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The alternatives to ISDN

What to do? Alternative channels are now in demand. Deutsche Telekom, for example, offers its own protocols to continue using X.400. The advantage is that they can be used both as direct, web-based communication channels to trading partners who also use AS2 or OFTP2. In addition, the X.400 network can be addressed via Telekom's AS2 gateway - without the need for ISDN!

AS2 also meets very high standards in terms of message authenticity and integrity through encryption and signature. Similarly, OFTP2, the standard for e-commerce recommended by ODETTE (Organisation for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission in Europe). However, it must be version 2, because pure OFTP is based on ISDN. With a solution like i‑effect®, which provides easy, alternative access to X.400 as well as the use of modern protocols like AS2 or OFTP2, the flexibility is undoubtedly greatest.

A change seems uncomfortable at first glance. EDI runs inconspicuously in the background as middleware and as long as everything works, there is no reason to shake it. In the automotive industry, EDI communication via ISDN using the OFTP protocol is a foundation of IT automation; the processes are deeply interwoven with the respective ERP systems. But the fact is, by the end of 2018 at the latest, IT departments must have a new strategy in place for their electronic data traffic. They have to switch their EDI systems or solutions to Internet communication and, if that is not possible, look for alternatives.

Moreover, the All-IP conversion is not a "forced conversion", but rather a contractual partner (Deutsche Telekom) legally terminates the existing contractual relationship with its customer. Therefore, every company has to pay for the new EDI environment itself - if the previous converter would have done its job for another hundred years under normal circumstances...