back to article China to stop certifying fax machines, ISDN and frame relay kit

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology tolled the bell on Monday for network access reforms that will mean the end for some well-loved but arguably obsolete communications technologies. The Ministry's announcement includes news that it will stop issuing network access permits for wired and wireless landline …

  1. David Pearce


    There are still plenty of analog telephony PABXs out there with 2 Mbps trunk lines.

    I had trouble buying a fixed line telephone recently to replace a broken set which was on my VOIP gateway box at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PABXs

      Hm, a bit of a type mismatch there I think....

      An analogue PABX would not have a 2mb/s trunk line. It would use 2 or 4 wire E+M circuits for interconnections. Only a digital PABX would have a 2mb/s trunk.

      It's 30 years since I worked in that field, but I'm pretty sure those fundamentals have not changed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PABXs

        Agreed, I'd imagine the main users still on ISDN30 are running Nortel BCMs or Early IP Office kit for various reasons. My employer kept their ISDN30 line for many years because the rural location meant it was ridiculously expensive to get anything more than ADSL and they didn't want to rely completely on SIP/IP telephony for 12 channels. Openreach finally installed FTTP in the area a few years back and one reliability was confirmed the BCM was yeeted out.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: PABXs

          Openreach providing a reliable connection of any kind in a rural location?


      2. Terry Barnes

        Re: PABXs

        A lot of legacy analogue PBXs were upgraded to have digital trunks using partial or full ISDN-30s. Usually a shelf or a rack with a mux and the ISDN termination in.

        1. Youngone Silver badge

          Re: PABXs

          That's what my ancient Samsung Officeserv PABX's have. I have just got off a Teams call with my Telecom rep who told me all copper services are being turned off nationwide this year, so we're going to have to bring forward our upgrade plans I suppose.

          End of an era.

          1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

            Re: PABXs

            In the UK, the PSTN goes "stop sell" in September this year, so you won't be able to order a new analogue line (I guess not an E1 trunk either), but it is not going to be completely switched off until December 2025.

            However, "all copper services" are not being turned off. Rather, remaining copper services will be digital only (FTTC and ADSL), without baseband dialtone. Any voice services will have to be provided as digital voice over-the-top.

            There is a separate stop-sell process for copper services, but it only applies in areas which have reached a certain percentage of FTTP coverage, and it applies only to those properties that actually have FTTP available to order.

      3. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: PABXs

        An analogue PABX would not have a 2mb/s trunk line. It would use 2 or 4 wire E+M

        But a 2 or 4 wire E1 circuit is 2Mb/s. Or what would you call it?

    2. Radio Wales

      Re: PABXs

      That's odd. I wanted a replacement recently and found myself knee-deep in options at give-away prices.

      Admittedly, most of them were new Chinese stock. Perhaps they are dumping in anticipation of - um - shortages?

  2. Flak

    Do they still exist?

    Legacy services and devices can survive for surprisingly long times, but it probably is time to let those technologies 'die' gracefully.

    1. Radio Wales

      Re: Do they still exist?

      Life being as it is, there will always be someone who will prefer or even need to stick to the tried and tested old stuff like faxes.

      Personally, I tend to stick with what has always worked well, regardless of peer or commercial pressure to 'keep up'.

    2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Do they still exist?

      It is. I've made quite the comfortable living repairing these circuits, but their time in the sun is over. In the US, customers are being told that when their contracts for these old services are finished they will not be renewed. In some localities, when the copper in the ground is no longer repairable, you're out of luck. Nobody is running new copper to my knowledge. I just need it to stay viable for another 4 years, after which I'm out the door. I CAN work optical fiber, and fact have a couple of decades of experience with it, but working the little circuits is kind of fun and relaxing. If I'm forced to go back to optical to finish my worktime I will, but I don't want to. I wish to retire right along with my beloved DS1 and DS3 circuits.

      All of the people in my department are just like me, too. Old, greying, and comfortable. The people we deal with at other telecoms are too In fact, I've worked with some of them long enough that I know them better than my next door neighbors. None of us are going to be working much longer. When we go, and we'll all pretty much go together, nobody will know how to fix the old copper anymore.

  3. Updraft102 Silver badge

    I would not willingly give up my POTS land line. I don't want to downgrade to cellular for that.

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Actually miss fax machines.

      "I would not willingly give up my POTS land line. I don't want to downgrade to cellular for that."

      In these parts (AU) even if you cannot get wired NBN the telcos eventually pull the plug on POTS and ADSL and force you onto fixed wireless (something 4G) but is generally cheaper and faster to go for mobile 4G/5G.

      Recently having to scan and email a fair number of multipage documents, I found it involves a fair amount of fartarsing compared to just inserting the documents into a fax's hopper, entering the remote number and pushing the big button.

      There has to be a market for the same user experience using the fax front end and some internetty thing on the backend. Perhaps an opportunity for the poor obsolete chinese fax manufacturers to repurpose their hardware.

      I imagine it would look something like two faxes connected with a m2m service.

    2. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "I would not willingly give up my POTS land line. I don't want to downgrade to cellular for that."

      After the nukes fly, I know who to call.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Before we sold the Stately Manor, we had not just POTS service but an actual fully-wired handset mounted on the wall in the kitchen. When a storm took the power out for nearly 3 days, we had (after about the first 24 hours) the only working phone in the neighborhood, as it was powered entirely by the telco line power, which still had substantial battery backup.

      It let us find the one place in the area where we could still get dry ice for the freezer. Saved us a few hundred dollars' worth of food spoilage.

      Alas, the local carrier started charging an outrageous rate for it, and announced they were switching all the POTS service to VoIP, so we dropped it in the final year or so.

      Here at the Mountain Fastness, POTS would be unreasonably expensive and probably not very reliable, whereas our FTTP Internet and picocell work well for regular voice calls. If the power or Internet fails, we wander outside to get a connection, or go into town; it's not ideal, but we grew up in an era when people were frequently out of contact and a handful of us survived through that.

  4. jollyboyspecial Silver badge

    In the UK at least ISDN has the same projected switch off date as PSTN.

    I don't suppose the rest of the world is all that different.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ars picked up your scoop, congrats

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fax machines stopped evolving

    and will die like the dinosaurs. All because of shortsighted infighting that prevented bridging IP and dialup connections to get around the bottlnecks. Ditto for the fact that the phone companies blocked fax service from being part of the base cell services like texts.

    They aren't the only ones, DECT cordless phones got stuck in the same tarpit, with a botched transition to IP services mostly down to the phone systems squatting on their dial-up monopolies. Surveillance cameras all became hot garbage once they went to IP, and now cost as much as a much better cellphone. Won't be long till that's on the DIWhy sites now that the phones are waterproof, can be activation locked, and location tracked if someone steals them. Try that with your 1500$ pelco dome.

    They had their days in the sun, let them go into the long night now.

  7. clyde666

    Green dot

    So does that mean no more green dots?

    Anyone else remember the modem chap who used to go around the Dixons shops peeling off the green dots to put on his own modems, so he could sell them?

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Green dot

      It's pretty much irrelevant now. Like the Chinese certification, the two points really requiring approval were interference (maximum signal level) and electrical isolation. Once you have all your devices connected to ADSL or FTTP or whatever, signal level and electrical isolation are given.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like