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The Death of Traditional Telephony Is Just Around The Corner

One foot in the grave for traditional telephony in Australia; even with a last-minute extension to the disconnection commencement date, 30 September 2019 is only just around the corner.

Since the ramp-up of the NBN roll-out, disconnection has been looming over ISDN services - the main phone lines still used by the majority of Australian businesses. With the cease of sale having come into full effect in June 2018, it might come as a surprise to many businesses that they only have a short time left before the disconnection of services commences. Originally slated to commence in June 2019, Telstra have quietly extended this to 30 September 2019, but this only buys businesses an extra 3 months to transition off the technology.

What services are being killed off, and why?

ISDN is a digital network technology that carries voice and data services over the public switched telephone network. This method requires a physical connection per location, dedicated to telephony traffic. With the rise of Voice over IP solutions telephony traffic can move to more versatile data network connections, enabling versatility and redundancy not available through traditional telephony.

Spurred on by the continued roll-out of the NBN, Telstra ceased sale of ISDN2, ISDN2 Enhanced, ISDN10/20/30, DDS Fastway, Megalink and Frame Relay products from 30th June 2018, with a final disconnection date expected by 2022 which is when the products will no longer exist. The disconnection of ISDN timeline is as follows:

  • 31st January 2018 - New ISDN services became unavailable for customers who did not already have ISDN in place.
  • 30th June 2018 - Full cease sale on new or additional ISDN services came into effect for all customers. No new ISDN services are available.
  • 30th September 2019 - Disconnection will commence for existing ISDN connections
  • By 2022 - All ISDN connections will be disconnected and the full network will be decommissioned.

How to survive the ISDN Shutdown

Click here to download the Survival GuidePreparation is key to surviving the ISDN shutdown without having your phones cut off. We've compiled an ISDN Shutdown Survival Guide to help businesses stay ahead.

This guide includes how to find out if your phone line is ISDN, an overview of the ISDN shutdown, what's after ISDN, and how to deploy an IP telephony solution for your business.

To find out more, download the Survival Guide or reach out to a member of the Over the Wire team today.

OTW #69 in Financial Review Fast 100 - 2018

Financial Review Fast 100 - Over the Wire ranked 69 The Australian Financial Review has released the Financial Review Fast 100 list for 2018, comprising of Australian businesses that have shown consistent, high growth over time. The rankings were calculated on a 3-year average of year-on-year growth percentage.

In the FY16 - FY18 period Over the Wire achieved an average year-on-year growth of 49.2%, which placed us at Rank 69 on the Fast 100 list. This is the second year in a row that Over the Wire has made the list published by AFR, ranking 74th in 2017.

Thank you for the fantastic, ongoing support from our clients and the amazing commitment from our team; we could not have achieved this result without you.

Over the Wire Collaborates with Judo Capital to Deliver Working from Anywhere

Over the Wire collaborates with Judo Capital to Deliver Working from Anywhere Over the Wire is partnering with Judo Capital to launch Australia's first true challenger bank, purpose-built to become a trusted ally and partner to Australia's small and medium sized businesses.

Judo Capital is founded on the belief that the financing skills needed by the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) community have been lost to increasingly centralised functions and cookie-cutter lending policies.

Judo’s mission is to put experienced and empowered relationship focused lenders back in customers premises, going against the industry trend by putting the customer experience first and foremost by ensuring Judo’s team can make credit decisions on the quality of the business, not just the quality of the security.

To do so, Judo looked to Over the Wire to deliver a network that enables its staff to work simply and securely from anywhere. By integrating Over the Wire’s Private Network, Voice and Network Security capabilities, both parties were able to collaborate on the design and implementation of the environment.

Alex Twigg, Judo Co-Founder says, “Starting with a blank sheet of paper is a fabulous opportunity but it’s not easy and wanting to flip an entrenched industry model on its head makes it more difficult again. We had to find likeminded technology partners that wanted to go on a journey with us, to make a difference. The OTW team got it from day 1 and the Network capabilities they delivered, just worked. We could focus all our efforts on creating a customer centric business, rather than how to enable our team to securely work from anywhere.”

With the strength and depth of OTW capabilities, Judo Capital is creating a secure, flexible and robust network infrastructure that is able to overcome substantial barriers to entry in a fraction of the time it has traditionally taken, and at minimal cost.

Judo’s eye is on the future, and the team have built a technology platform that removes the restriction of having to work within a specific location. With the network Judo can not only deliver flexible working but is ready to roll out to Australia through pop-up offices and roaming team members.

Michael Omeros, Managing Director at Over the Wire, says, “We’ve been delighted to work closely with Judo Capital and its founding team who have embraced a forward-thinking approach to their IT&T. We have been able to deliver a private data network, Hosted PBX voice services, data centre colocation, and advanced Managed Security offerings to Judo, but the real value has been how all of these elements integrate together.”

“For example, we have been able to provide Judo with virtual mobile numbers for their staff which still track calls through the phone system, but can be answered on our mobile softphone application. Not only does that give their staff the ability to make and receive calls anywhere, but it also gives them the ability to have a truly mobile workforce.”

“We’re excited for the next phase of their roll-out which will introduce pop-up offices and roaming staff securely connected to the private network with our Layer 2 Private Mobile 4G data service. This will give their mobile workforce secure access to their corporate network by entirely bypassing the public Internet.”

For further details please contact the Over the Wire team at or the Judo Capital team at

Judo Capital is a registered trademarks of Judo Capital.

OTW #74 in Financial Review Fast 100 - 2017

Financial Review Fast 100 - Over the Wire ranked 74 The Australian Financial Review has released the Financial Review Fast 100 list for 2017, comprising of Australian businesses that have shown consistent, high growth over time. The rankings were calculated on a 3-year average of year-on-year growth percentage.

In the FY15 - FY17 period Over the Wire achieved an average year-on-year growth of 37.1%, which placed us at Rank 74 on the Fast 100 list. We’re very pleased with this outcome, and could not have achieved it without the amazing commitment from our team and the fantastic ongoing support from our clients - thank you!

Topping the list this year, with a staggering 464.8% average year-on-year growth over the 3-year period, is TripADeal. Congratulations to founders Norm Black and Richard Johnston, along with all of the other Fast 100 companies.

As ISDN begins its end, what will this mean for business voice?

With Australian ISDN drawing to a close, why should companies look to SIP as the best strategy for implementing business voice?

It might seem a long way off, but the eventual shut down of the Australian ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) will be here sooner than you think. By 2022 Telstra will discontinue supporting its ISDN products due to the supporting technologies and platforms nearing the end of their lifetime.

As the NBN continues to roll out across the country, what should businesses be doing in preparation for the switch?

What services will be switched off?

ISDN is a digital network technology that carries voice and data services over the public switched telephone network.

Telstra will cease the sale of ISDN2, ISDN2 Enhanced, ISDN10/20/30, DDS Fastway, Megalink and Frame Relay products by 30th June 2018, with a final disconnection date expected by 2022 which is when the products will no longer exist.

  • 31st January 2018 - New ISDN service unavailable for customers who do not already have ISDN in place.
  • 30th June 2018 - Full cease sale on new or additional ISDN services for all customers. No new services will be available.
  • June 2019 30th September 2019 - Disconnection will commence for existing ISDN connections (commencement date pushed back in February 2019)
  • By 2022 - All ISDN connections will be disconnected and full network will be decommissioned.

While businesses using these products can expect plenty of early warning leading up to the exit, the clock is definitely ticking for companies relying on ISDN to find an alternative solution.

Thankfully, a solution exists and it's cheaper and more efficient than ISDN. SIP, or Session Initiated Protocol is the future of business voice.

How to make the move from ISDN to IP Voice

A SIP Trunk is the digital equivalent of a traditional phone line. A SIP Trunk needs to connect to a PBX – a device that provides the brains behind the phone system that enables multiple users to share lines. You will need to decide whether to host your PBX in the cloud or at your premises. Getting the assistance of a SIP provider will help simplify this process.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

Click here to download the white paper Click here to download the ebook
The ISDN Switch Off - 4 Things You Need To Do The ISDN Shutdown Survival Guide
This quick read explains the four key things that your business should be doing to prepare for the ISDN switch off. This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about the ISDN shutdown and your replacement options.

With the imminent cessation of ISDN, switching to sophisticated SIP technology should be a business priority.

At Over the Wire, our solutions unite voice, data and security through a single, end-to-end service provider. We can help organisations of any size achieve a higher level of productivity.

To find out more, reach out to a member of the Over the Wire team today.

Introducing our new Hosted PBX Communications Solution

Telarus to be acquired by Over the WireOver the Wire has partnered with netsapiens, a mature PBX and Unified Communications platform servicing enterprises and telecommunications providers globally, to relaunch our Hosted PBX product. This new offering gives our clients the ability to upgrade to a superior platform, managed and maintained by Over the Wire across multiple geographic nodes for high availability and redundancy.

Key features of the new Hosted PBX offering include:

  • Unlimited call plans available
  • Guaranteed voice quality on our private data networks
  • Unified Communications included
  • Self-management portal for control over Adds/ Moves/ Changes
  • Handset rental available, with different models to choose from
  • Mobile soft-phone applications for on-the-go access
  • Geographic redundancy
  • Call reporting
  • Complex dial patterns, hunt groups, IVRs
  • High level of customisation possible.

Learn more here, or talk to our team to see how Over the Wire can transform your phone system into a full communications and collaboration solution.

How to protect yourself from toll fraud

What is the cost of global toll fraud

Source: (2013) Communications Fraud Control Association - Global Fraud Loss Report.

How Do People make Money from Toll Fraud?

Like all technological scams, people commit toll fraud because it is a brilliantly irritating combination of anonymity, profitability, and scalability. While there are as many different variations in approach as there are companies to exploit, primarily the scams that we see getting run use one of the following methods.

Phone Cards

International Numbers

In the first instance the person will sell phone cards with heavily discounted international call rates. When a consumer uses the card, their call is connected to the international destination via an unsuspecting company's PBX. Eventually the company will be hit with a massive bill for outgoing calls, rectify the security flaw, and the scammer will simply move on to the next unsuspecting victim. Because the scammer has passed off his primary cost structure, any money gained from the sale of the cards is money in the bank.

Premium Rate Numbers

High Cost Numbers

The second scam is conceptually much simpler because requires neither phone cards nor an unsuspecting third party. Once the scammer has control of a company’s PBX they places a series of calls to premium rate numbers that he/she owns (the kind people would ordinarily call to talk to a very special person for $12.99 a minute). But unlike your typical premium rate number, there is no special person at the other end, just a voice recording inanely muttering in order to maintain the verisimilitude of a conversation. This is done to minimise the chances that the call is flagged as fraudulent and dropped. Meanwhile the charges pile up, and the scammer pockets the proceeds.

How does Toll Fraud Work?

How do scammers get access to a PBX?

There are many different types of toll fraud and we won't be going into all of them today. Instead we are going to focus on the one we see as being the most pertinent to Australian businesses: PBX hacking. Typically a scammer will write a script that crawls the internet looking for vulnerabilities in companys’ firewalls (like open ports). Once an opening is detected, the scammer can then punch requests at it in order to tease out information about what the system is and how it might be vulnerable. Eventually they will have all the information they need to brute force their way through the firewall. For anonymity purposes and to reduce their own infrastructure costs, experienced scammers will do this via either a proxy, or a botnet (sometimes called a zombie network) of previously hacked computers.

Once the firewall has been breached the scammer can gain access to the PBX, build a back door into the system, and use it to route as much traffic through it as they think they can get away with.

What do Telco’s do to protect against it

From the Telco’s perspective (assuming it has been done elegantly) toll fraud is very difficult to detect. This is due to the fact that the traffic appears to be authentically originating from the company’s PBX with the source IP, user account, user ID, and password all matching the company’s records.

This means that some of the best tools in a telecommunications provider’s arsenal are the ability to monitor for the presence of toll fraud by scanning for atypical call activity, and the imposition of limitations to minimise the damage that can be done. For security reasons we will refrain from going into specifics, but the following list represents some typical strategies that providers employ:

Imposing channel limitations

Along with bandwidth limitations, toll fraud is one of the primary reasons that providers limit the number of concurrent calls that can be made from a single PBX. While this tactic may not actively discourage fraudsters, it limits the amount of damage that can be done over a short space of time. Because providers can see the number of calls that are attempting to connect (not just the ones that get put through) they are able to use this as an indicator of abnormal traffic activity. Additionally, because the vast majority of call fraud occurs to international numbers (see the picture below), providers will often impose separate limitations on how many concurrent international calls a customer can make.

Imposing a threshold on the maximum per minute cost of a phone call

Providers often impose an upper limit on the per-minute costs of calls that they are happy to connect, unless clients have specifically request that this limitation be removed. This limitation is used to prevent scammers from being able to dial premium rate numbers, such as 1900 numbers.

Limiting the amount of credit that a company is extended

In a worst case scenario, telecommunications providers seek to protect their customers from exorbitant call costs by placing an upper threshold on the amount of billable calls that a company is able to incur. The rules around this differ from provider to provider, and are likely to be dependent on the size of a company's average bill, so it is worth checking with your provider what your limit is and negotiating an increase or decrease as you see fit.

What can you do to protect against PBX Hacking?

Use complex and varied passwords

Time and time again we find toll fraud comes back to weak passwords. So even though it seems obvious, we are going to say it anyway: "Don’t use common passwords like 1234, password, guest, 1000, test, or the same four digit code as the extension phone". If you have trouble remembering your passwords, either use some secure software like Keepass to generate and keep track of them, or use a combinations that are easy to remember like “14CharlieSheen?” or "3BlindMice!".

Check your ISDN failover configuration

If you are using SIP based telephony, but have also chosen to maintain or setup a failover to an ISDN line, make sure your ISDN lines can’t be used to call high toll numbers. Why? Because if a scammer bombards your PBX with traffic, it is likely that some of the fraudulent calls, being unable to connect via SIP, will fail-over to the much more expensive ISDN connection.

Block country prefixes

Most PBX's allow customers to block outbound traffic to international numbers. So if you only conduct business domestically this is one of the best options available. Not only does it impose additional limitations on hackers, it is capable of preventing other less technologically advanced forms of toll fraud (such as late night staff making long calls to family members in other countries). Even if your business frequently needs to call international numbers, it is still unlikely that it will need to call all of them. As such, we recommended that you block all unnecessary destinations. Unless you have a clients or suppliers in these countries, this list of the top destinations for toll fraud call terminations might be a good place to start.

Where do most toll fraud calls terminate?

Source: (2013) Communications Fraud Control Association - Global Fraud Loss Report.

If your Telco also provides your WAN make sure you ask for a managed firewall

Telecommunications providers have a lot more experience with toll fraud than your average IT manager, and have become much more adept at configuring firewalls so as to minimise the chances of a breach as a result. If this option is available to you, we would suggest that you take advantage of it as it is going to make things a lot harder for the scammer.

Minimise the visibility of your PBX to the web.

If you are choosing to manage your own firewalls, wherever possible avoid leaving open ports available for staff to remotely access your PBX. Remember this is how most scammers are able to hack in, so avoid doing it unless it is absolutely necessary.

These are just a few of the techniques available and this list is far from all encompassing, but as with most technological scams, even implementing basic security measures makes a huge difference to how likely you are to be targeted. However, if you are interested in a more comprehensive solution, we would recommend talking to your telecommunications provider about what options they have available, and what they recommend for your organisation.