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Alert for ISDN Users

Sports Backhaul Network tells customers, other broadcasters, Verizon plans to drop ISDN service in some states

A page of a Verizon bill provided by Mike Simpson. Click on the Image to Enlarge
Sports Backhaul Network is getting the word out that Verizon intends to drop ISDN service in some states.

It’s a big deal for stations that need to get their audio back to the studio from any location, not just a game.

SBN uses ISDN/BRI lines provided by the local Bell operating companies. “We provide the ISDN backhaul for NFL radio broadcasts from the stadium to the station,” company President Mike Simpson tells Radio World. His company handles more than half of the 32 NFL teams.

After studying a bill, Simpson says he noticed that in Verizon’s East Coast markets, the carrier plans to cut off ISDN service May 18 and he predicts other carriers will follow as they offer customers other products. “It would not surprise me to see an announcement someday soon from AT&T and CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) that they too, will cease installing ISDN lines.”

AT&T is already raising the price of ISDN. At Reliant Stadium in Houston for example, the monthly cost of ISDN for SBN was $86 in 2009, $204.92 in 2011 and is now $308.52, according to Simpson.

He cautions broadcasters served by Verizon From New England down the coast to Virginia, not to disconnect existing ISDN lines, and if stations need additional ISDN lines to order those now.

Simpson is urging broadcasters to alert their state public utilities commissions to this change.

Asked whether Verizon offered anything to replace ISDN in these locations, Simpson said no. “There is out there nothing comparable to ISDN, which is a circuit-switched connection.” A Verizon spokesman told RW he would ask someone in the company’s product line mamagement group about the future plans for ISDN services.

His retort to those who might suggest using an IP codec instead is: “Would you trust your $200,000 NFL broadcast to the same public Internet that can’t get you to Google reliably? I certainly would not do that, nor would any intelligent broadcast professional.”