The Slow Death of ISDN

by | Feb 1, 2013 | ISDN, Technology, VO Community, Web Resources | 9 comments

connectivityThe major telephone companies wish they’d never seen ISDN.

It’s a pain in the butt to provision, switch, maintain, uphold, and they’re not even sure why they do it.

The result is ever-increasing installation and monthly fees, especially in the fly-over states.

The evidence is everywhere and ever-increasing.

Two threads on VO Facebook groups this week were testament.

In one, Melanie Haynes stated:  “…”Having my battle with them again…..Thought we’d settled it last year when I signed a 2 year contract with a lowered rate. Guess what? It will be only 1 year in Feb and my latest bill jumped the rate by $25..”

Others chimed in to say they’re paying more than $300/mo for their ISDN service.

Voice actor AJ McKay noted with frustration:  “I’ve had mine for a little over a year. It went from 165 to 194 and now is $235. It really is ridiculous because they don’t train people anymore to service ISDN (according to the guy who just came to my house last month). I knew more jargon and about ISDN than he did.”

Still more voice-actors say they can’t even get an ISDN install in their town/city.  It’s not even available.

Much of this conversation was sparked by a blog my friend Bobbin Beam wrote on ISDN.  Bobbin just moved from San Diego, back to the Midwest, and is having a nightmare of a time getting her ISDN established again.  $50/mo in San Diego, now $214/mo in Milwaukee for a business account…personal accounts no longer available.  See:  The Unlevel Playing Field.

About this time, seasoned pros in NYC and LA will chime in and say “ISDN is never going away…the studios like it too much…you all are overreacting…too many people have preached its demise for too long, and it’s still here…” and more like that.  All of which bears some truth.

But the mounting evidence can no longer be ignored.  The owner of studio here in Las Vegas was lamenting how it’s getting harder and harder to find a decent long distance service for his ISDN connection.  If the studios are getting squeezed out of the market…there’s little hope ISDN will last.

It may be a couple of years, but now is the time to start looking.  There are several candidates:
(in order of likelihood)

1) Source-Connect 

From Source-Elements, Source-Connect already has pretty good name recognition and acceptance among studios and talent.  For some reason, it has never really taken-off…but with the slow demise of ISDN…maybe it can come forward and shine.  Configuration and set-up problems are well-known, though, and there remains occasional drop-out in the signal.

2) SoundStreak

Dan Caligor’s team is hot on the trail of a very sweet IP solution to remote recording.  It’s a service more than software, and now with it’s Windows Beta release and other big developments, Soundstreak has a real chance.  Read my recent blog about SS.

3) Skype

Yeah.  Skype.  After bouncing around under different corporations (Ebay?) Skype now falls under Microsoft’s umbrella.  Some lament this fact. I rejoice in it.  I think MS will make some hay out of this product.  Many a Podcast and Phone Patch are successfully completed using Skype… can top quality studio sound over this IP service be very far?

4)  Luci Live App

This $400 iOS app delivers the connectivity goods…but then you’re at the mercy of the inferior audio electronics of an iPad or iPhone.  It’s not terrible, but good enough for network promos?  I doubt it.

HONORABLE MENTION:  ConnectionOpen  This is a simple, easy-to-use interface designed for recording remote collaborative music sessions, but there’s  no reason why it wouldn’t work for VO sessions.  See my blog of Mar 2012 on this.

CourVO

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9 Comments

  1. Dustin Ebaugh

    Great article Dave!! Thanks for writing this. I hope Source-Conmect is the winner. I already own that one. 🙂

    Reply
    • Kevin Scheuller

      Another great blog, Dave!
      While reading this via your google+ post, I wonder whether or not Google hangout would be yet another option? Having been in on a couple of such hangouts, I’ve foundit works far more seemlessly than Skype. Dare I suggest that that audio-visual quality on those hangout sessions seemed superior to most Skype sessions I’ve had. Is there something about Google hangouts that I don’t know about that would preclude it for ISDN replacement?

      Reply
      • CourVO

        Thanks, Kevin,

        No, I think that’s an excellent solution that is already working for many in our business. We’re conducting our WoVO Executive Board meetings, for instance, on G+ HO’s. So far, third-party software, though, make it easier to record both sides of the video HO. To do that on G+, you have to go “on air”, and the video ends up on YouTube in a public link…so if you want to be more private, then Skype is your tool.

        Thanks for stopping and commenting!

        Dave C

        Reply
        • Kevin Scheuller

          Thank you, Dave. I’m always more than happy to stop by your very informative blog. One more thing – I know you would certainly know better than I would, having led a G+ HO or two yourself. Both my brother and I have posted private videos of our kids on YouTube which only those invited by link can view. It’s puzzling that the private option is not given when publishing a G+ HO. I wonder if you can switch a toggle from public to private in YouTube settings after the hangout posts?

          Reply
          • CourVO

            Kevin,

            Thanks for the late reply. I’m researching this…as I always thought it was a shame it had to be “public”.

            I appreciate your stopping by and commenting!

            Dave Courvoisier

  2. Graeme Spicer

    Dave – as always thanks for keeping us all up to speed on what’s happening in the real world!

    I’ve been following many of the same discussion forums and blog posts that you have, and agree that ISDN will eventually die due to neglect by the companies that provide the service. Starving the runt of the litter, so to speak.

    The playing field had previously been levelled to some degree by ISDN. Voice actors could land national commercials and promo gigs produced out of LA and NYC regardless of where they lived. My concern is that these actors are once again becoming marginalized – and will be for the period of time until ISDN finally gasps its last breath and the studios have to look to IP alternatives.

    If these large commercial recording studios and the broadcast networks based in major markets continue in the meantime to insist on ISDN connections, then only those actors living in areas with continued ISDN service will be able to play. I’m making the assumption that ISDN will succumb last in the largest markets. Which makes it tough for actors like Bobbin in beautiful Milwaukee, WI.

    ISDN, the great equalizer of 15-20 years ago, could very well turn against those actors in Las Vegas, in Des Moines, and yes, even in Milwaukee. At least for a period of time.

    Could the ability to “bridge” between Source-Connect and ISDN be a temporary solution? Perhaps. But it’s a stop-gap at best.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Graeme,

      Thanks for your response, and contributing to the conversation here on my blog.

      Dan Caligor, who is developing SoundStreak, and who used to work as a consultant for major TelCo’s…says they all HATE ISDN, and are looking for the most expeditious manner in which to DUMP it.

      But you raise an interesting questions: without the “great equalizer” of ISDN, will the whole system go back 25 years to the paradigm of making the rounds of physical studios in NYC and LA to get the really big jobs?

      great hearing form you!

      Dave C

      Reply
  3. Dave Martin

    HI Dave. I just got turned on to your blog. I have really enjoyed it! I work both sides of the ISDN session, doing both voiceover work and producing other talents. I also get frustrated with ISDN; but it is still the preferred, and usually the only way, to do a session with a studio in LA and other locations.

    Connection Open looks promising, as does Sound Streak. I also recently heard that Skype is working on a new audio codec called Opus that is supposed to be the cat’s meow.

    http://blogs.skype.com/2012/09/12/skype-and-a-new-audio-codec/#fbid=lCLBfRP0o5e

    I am also the production manager at Lotus Broadcasting. Most of the bigger remote broadcasts are still done over ISDN due to the near-zero latency and studio quality audio. According to our engineers, even with 4G services, audio over the internet is still too much of a crap-shoot for important audio.

    With high-bandwidth connections so easily available, I don’t see how (or why) ISDN should need to continue. Someone is eventually going to take this market by storm.

    Reply
  4. Matt Boyd

    Hi Dave,

    Just came across your blog as I was researching alternatives for ISDN. I am the IT supervisor for an arena with sports teams that use ISDN for radio broadcast. As Verizon has announced their intentions to end new ISDN installs, we have started researching ways to bridge the gap and best solutions for the future.

    Do you know of any hardware that could help us bridge the gap until IP becomes the more prevalent option?

    Reply

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