Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network. It was first defined in 1988 in the CCITT red book. Prior to ISDN, the telephone system was viewed as a way to transport voice, with some special services available for data.
The key feature of ISDN is that it integrates speech and data on the same lines, adding features that were not available in the classic telephone system. The ISDN standards define several kinds of access interfaces, such as Basic Rate Interface (BRI), Primary Rate Interface (PRI), Narrowband ISDN (N-ISDN), and Broadband ISDN (B-ISDN).
ISDN is a circuit-switched telephone network system, which also provides access to packet switched networks, designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in potentially better voice quality than an analog phone can provide. It offers circuit-switched connections (for either voice or data), and packet-switched connections (for data), in increments of 64 kilobit/s.
In some countries, ISDN found major market application for Internet access, in which ISDN typically provides a maximum of 128 kbit/s bandwidth in both upstream and downstream directions. Channel bonding can achieve a greater data rate; typically the ISDN B-channels of three or four BRIs (six to eight 64 kbit/s channels) are bonded.
ISDN is employed as the network, data-link and physical layers in the context of the OSI model. In common use, ISDN is often limited to usage to Q.931 and related protocols, which are a set of signaling protocols establishing and breaking circuit-switched connections, and for advanced calling features for the user. They were introduced in 1986.
In a videoconference, ISDN provides simultaneous voice, video, and text transmission between individual desktop videoconferencing systems and group (room) videoconferencing systems.