Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) refers to a set of digital services that are becoming available to end users. ISDN involves the digitization of the telephone network so that voice, data, text, graphics, music, video, and other source material can be provided to end users from a single end-user terminal over existing telephone wiring. Proponents of ISDN imagine a worldwide network much like the present telephone network, but with digital transmission and a variety of new services.
ISDN is an effort to standardize subscriber services, user/network interfaces, and network and internetwork capabilities. Standardizing subscriber services attempts to ensure a level of international compatibility. Standardizing the user/network interface stimulates development and marketing of these interfaces by third-party manufacturers. Standardizing network and internetwork capabilities helps achieve the goal of worldwide connectivity by ensuring that ISDN networks easily communicate with one another.
ISDN applications include high-speed image applications (such as Group IV facsimile), additional telephone lines in homes to serve the telecommuting industry, high-speed file transfer, and video conferencing. Voice, of course, will also be a popular application for ISDN.
Many carriers are beginning to offer ISDN under tariff. In North America, large local-exchange carriers (LECs) are beginning to provide ISDN service as an alternative to the T1 connections (digital carrier facilities provided by telephone companies) that currently carry bulk wide-area telephone service (WATS) services.
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