by | Nov 23, 2011 | ISDN, Technical | 8 comments

Read into the archives of this blog, and you’ll see a long and bloody history of my wrestling match with the ISDN demons.  More often than not, I found myself pinned with my shoulders to the mat.

Once you raise the question about ISDN’s possible demise, you inevitably hear from a usually seasoned old-guard of voice-actors that “…ISDN has always been there, and it ain’t goin’ away any time soon!…”  That may be, but indicators show a growing inveitability that the major TelCos are withdrawing their infrastructure support for ISDN.  Bottom line:  It just isn’t financially worthwhile for them.

To see a much deeper discussion of this, read George Whittam’s blog:  ISDN USERS: IT’S TIME TO GET A BACKUP SYSTEM.

George is not the only one saying this, but George is the only one saying it with the substantial gravity of his knowledge and experience.  To that end, you may want to put a new date on your calendar:  November 29th, 6pm PST.  George and VoiceOverXtra’s John Florian are teaming up for a seminar that night on ISDN & Alternatives.  This will be a worthwhile session.

I’m already into Source Connect…and have been for 4 years.  My handle is (big surprise) COURVO.  Connect with me on the Source-Elements site if you want to. I’m happy to help anyone with a test ISDN or SC session.  My ISDN #’s are 702-240-2107, -2157

(author’s note 11-25-11.  Make a point to read Beau Weaver’s comments below in addendum to this blog article.  His experience speaks volumes, and he fleshes out a lot of answers to these issues.)




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  1. Jodi Krangle

    I’ve been following this pretty closely myself – and had already read George’s highly informative article. Actually, fact is, I can’t GET ISDN where I am, even if I wanted it. And the pricing I’ve been hearing about, even in downtown Toronto, is over $200 per month. You’re right that the telcos just don’t want to deal with it anymore – if anyone over there even knows what it IS. 😉 George also makes the point that as ISDN is becoming less reliable, the Internet is becoming MORE so – ie: the delivery method that Source Connect uses. I’m pretty sure a local studio to me (about 2 minutes away) is looking into investing in Source Connect. WOW will that be a game changer! And I’d happily pay for studio time and an engineer so that someone *else* can worry about this stuff. 😉 Plus – with bridges, the playing field is all but even. It’s a brave new world! 🙂 Thanks for writing about this, Dave! All the best, — Jodi

    • CourVO

      Thanks for commenting, Jodi,

      I’m in the camp that supports ISDN as long as it’s tenable…a steadily diminishing proposition. I’m still getting calls for its use, and occasionally I’m able to audition for jobs that require it…whereas before I didn’t bother.

      I also have SC, though, and need to ramp up my familiarity with it…because, as you say, it IS the future.

      Always good to hear from ya!

      Dave C.

  2. George Whittam

    Thanks for the plug, Dave! We’ll have a bit of a teaser about this topic on East West Audio Body Shop this Sunday at 6PM PST. I’d like to get other ISDN user’s feedback on their experiences over the last few months.

    • CourVO

      No prob, George!

      I’ll try to make it to the show this week (I knowk, I know, I’ve been absent lately)…so I can add my 2-cents about ISDN experiences.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Dave C

  3. Beau Weaver

    Sorry, no…..In the realm of national television work in NYC and LA, ISDN is not going away.

    However, the difficulty of getting ISDN installed is more than anecdotal. I have ordered ISDN installations at least eight times. The last few times, the phone company here in Los Angeles swore to me that they did not have ISDN service. I told them, “um, yes you do, because I have current service with you in two locations.” They still claimed it did not exist, even when I gave them my account numbers. On my last studio move I did manage to get the service installed. I called Dave Immer at Digifon and paid him a consulting fee to order the service, oversee it’s installation and test it. It was worth it! I suggest that if you are having difficulty getting service, call Dave. Service may in fact be available, but they first six levels of customer service reps you get to may not know this. Dave has some kind of secret mojo. He know where bodies are buried. He may be able to get it done for you. So, don’t give up until Dave tells you it is impossible.

    I keep hearing that ISDN is going away. Not in the world of national commercials, network promos and trailers, and work done by major commercial recording studios and post production houses in Los Angeles and New York. Here, it is well established, with a huge installed base of transceivers.

    I have a Source-Connect license, but only use it when on the road, to connect to a bridge service (Digifon, Out of Hear, Ednet) connecting to ISDN connected clients.
    I only ever done one direct Source-Connect session. For IP audio connection, I actually prefer the PC based AudioTX Communicator, which requires much less bandwidth. On the road, I don’t usually find a robust enough internet connection to keep a S-C session free of dropouts. AudioTX can only needs about half the upstream bandwidth S-C requires, and can be adjusted to adapt to crappier connections.

    One of the other things you need to know is that for voice talent who might aspire to work with the networks, Source-Connect and other IP connections are simply not going to be allowed into the broadcast networks, now or ever, their engineers emphatically tell me! The network IT departments will simply not allow an IP connection (internet) into their proprietary post production network, period. It does not matter what kind of firewall is offered. No go. Not gonna happen. ISDN does not use the public internet. It is a closed, switched analog system that cannot under any circumstances breach the Networks internal security. We have had the same response from some of the big post houses here. Production networks simply do not get a connection to the public internet.

    If you are working with smaller, regional production companies, you might find them more receptive to IP Audio. But in New York and Los Angeles, ISDN is still King, and I have seen no evidence whatsoever of this changing.

    George Whittam is right to urge you to have an alternative. I always maintain several backup methods of getting audio to clients. But I am still convinced that the only people who say ISDN is “on it’s way out” are folks who don’t want to make the investment in the transceiver. But there is a less capital intensive way to do ISDN from your home studio.

    If you have a Source-Connect or AudioTX license, you can most certainly advertise yourself as “ISDN ready” simply by using Out of Hear or, as mentioned earlier, Digifon,as a bridge service. That is to say, you connect to the bridge via Source-Connect over IP, and the advertising agency client connects to the bridge via ISDN. The only drawback is a little more latency (delay). Yes, there is a fee for the bridge…..but you are saving the cost of the ISDN codec and connection charges, and you get the added value of the tech support of Steve or Dave….so it is actually quite reasonable.

    Beau Weaver

    • CourVO


      Your insights and experience are invaluable here. Thanks for ALL that!

      As you say,though, getting fresh installations are increasingly difficult…so while established ISDN talent and production services/studios in the nation’s #1 & #2 markets are solid as a rock, everything in-between is iffy, confusing and diminishing. I, too, argued with my local TelCo service in Las Vegas when I asked for ISDN. They kept saying: “…are you sure you’re not talking about DSL?…” They had no clue. I finally found the ONE office in all the U-S that handles ISDN for the entire Embarq/CenturyLink/Sprint network…and THEY gave the work order from Virginia for the local guys to come and install.

      I have a friend in Toronto who CANNOT get ISDN…I should probably tell her to call Dave Immer too. And he is great, BTW…just the best. I’ve used him as well.

      Thanks again for your working knowledge of all this…and sharing your thoughts. I’ve edited the original article to refer people to your comments.

      Dave Courvoisier

  4. mercados

    Hola, tengo contratado servicio RDSi de telefonica. Desde 1996.
    Tengo una Agencia Propiedad Inmobiliara en Córdoba España.
    La calidad, seguridad, enviar ficheros, es insuperable.
    Y no lo cambio por el analogico.

    Hi, I have hired ISDN telephone service. Since 1996.
    I have an Agency Immobilier Property in Cordoba Spain.
    The quality, safety, send files, is unsurpassed.
    And do not change by the analog.

    • CourVO

      Thanks for your reply, Mercados. ISDN is a different animal in Europe. Much more mainstream, and dependable.

      Thanks for commenting.


      Dave Courvoisier


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