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PSTN vs ISDN: What’s the difference?

Published on April 14, 2023
Last modified on May 4, 2023
PSTN vs ISDN What's the difference - NeoDove

What’s the difference between a phone and a landline? 

One’s always on the move, while the other is stuck in one place, just like the outdated PSTN system!

But fear not, because there’s a new player in town that’s stealing the spotlight – the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN).

From faster data transmission to better call quality, ISDN has a lot to offer. If you’re tired of outdated technology and want to try something new, ISDN might just be the system for you.

In this blog, we’ll explore the top differences between PSTN and ISDN, and why you might want to consider switching to ISDN for your communication needs.

What is PSTN?

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a communication system that has been used for over a century. PSTN is used to connect telephone calls between different locations.

In fact, the PSTN network has a vast network of copper wires and switching centers to connect people around the world.

What is PSTN phone system - NeoDove

When you make a call using a traditional landline phone, your voice is converted into analog signals. These signals then travel through the PSTN network to reach the other person’s phone. PSTN systems use various technologies to ensure that the call is reliable, and your sound quality is clear.

However, with the advent of digital technologies, PSTN is becoming less popular. Furthermore, many countries are phasing it out in favor of more modern communication networks such as ISDN and VoIP.

Nevertheless, PSTN continues to play an essential role in connecting people worldwide. As such, many people still rely on it for their communication needs.

Also read, What is PSTN and How does it work?

What is ISDN?

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a digital communication network that was developed in the 1980s. It was designed as an upgrade to the traditional PSTN system. In comparison, ISDN is able to provide users with faster data transmission and better call quality than PSTN.

What is ISDN - NeoDove

Moreover, ISDN uses digital signals to transmit data, which is more reliable. As such, it can handle multiple calls simultaneously. This makes it ideal for businesses that need to handle a large volume of calls.

Additionally, ISDN also comes with a feature called “channel bonding”. This allows two or more ISDN lines to be combined to increase the data transmission rate. This acts as a significant advantage for businesses that need to transfer large amounts of data quickly.

For these reasons, ISDN is considered a more modern and efficient communication network that offers several advantages over PSTN. It is mainly used in businesses and organizations that require a reliable and fast communication network.

Top 7 Differences between PSTN and ISDN Systems

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between PSTN and ISDN systems, you’ve come to the right place. PSTN and ISDN are two communication systems that have been around for decades. However, they have significant differences that are worth exploring. 

Top 7 Differences between PSTN and ISDN Systems - NeoDove

In this section, we’ll now take a look at the top 7 differences between PSTN and ISDN systems:

1) Technology Used

The biggest difference between PSTN and ISDN is the technology they use. PSTN uses analog technology to transmit voice data, while ISDN uses digital technology. 

PSTN networks use copper wires to transmit signals. This means that the quality of the call can be affected by various factors, such as distance and interference. Alternatively, ISDN uses digital signals, which are less affected by interference and can provide better quality calls.

2) Speed

Another major difference between PSTN and ISDN is the speed of communication. 

PSTN networks have limited bandwidth, which means that they can only transmit limited amounts of data at a time. This can result in slow data transfer rates, making it unsuitable for modern applications that require high-speed data transfer. 

Meanwhile, ISDNs can transmit data at much higher speeds. This makes it ideal if you use applications such as video conferencing and multimedia messaging.

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    3) Flexibility

    ISDN is more flexible than PSTN because it can provide both voice and data services over the same line. This means that you can make a phone call while simultaneously using the internet or transferring data. 

    However, PSTN can only provide voice services and requires a separate line for data services.

    4) Availability

    PSTN is widely available and almost every household has a telephone connection that uses PSTN technology. 

    On the other hand, ISDN is not as widely available and may require additional infrastructure to use it. This means that ISDN may not be available in remote or rural areas where the infrastructure is not in place.

    5) Bandwidth

    PSTN is a narrowband network that can only transmit a limited amount of data per second. 

    In comparison, ISDN is a broadband network that can transmit much more data per second. In fact, it is capable of supporting up to 128 kbps of data. This is definitely more than enough for most of your applications.

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      6) Cost

      PSTN is generally less expensive than ISDN. It is an older technology that has been around for a long time and is widely available. However, ISDN is a newer technology that is not as widely available. As such, it is more expensive for you to install and maintain.

      7) Quality of Service

      Lastly, ISDN provides a higher quality of service than PSTN. This is because it is a digital network and can provide a more reliable and consistent signal. Conversely, PSTN is an analog network that is easily susceptible to interference and noise.



      Overall, we’ve now learnt that PSTN and ISDN are two different communication systems with their own unique features and benefits. PSTN has been around for decades. But, it is becoming outdated and has limitations in terms of data transmission and call quality. 

      On the other hand, ISDN is a newer system that offers faster data transmission and better call quality. This makes it an attractive option for businesses and individuals who need reliable communication services.

      While PSTN still has its uses, systems like ISDN and VoIP are the future of communication. Moreover, it’s becoming more and more important to keep up with the demands of modern communication.

      So, if you’re a business owner looking to upgrade your communication system, it’s worth considering the benefits of ISDN over PSTN. With its various benefits, ISDN is the way to go for anyone looking for top-notch communication services.


      Why your business should choose ISDN over PSTN - NeoDove

      Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

      ISDN uses PSTN to function. However, it digitizes the traditional network system so that it can provide multiple lines for your business. Alongside this, ISDN is also able to offer higher call quality, video as well as various other additional features.

      A PSTN is used by users worldwide in telephone lines, switching centers, cellular networks, satellites, fiber optic cables, etc. It allows users to make as well as receive landline calls.

      ISDN provides users with high-speed and high-quality channels for communication. The two primary types of ISDN networks are Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI).

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