Telecommunications is an industry where voice over IP (VoIP) technology is advancing at warp speed, and acronyms are as common as hot dogs & beer at a baseball game. This is such an exciting time as the Spring season is beginning to unfold, the days are getting longer, baseball is now in full swing, and SIP trunking is impacting the telecom landscape in so many powerful and positive ways. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), another three-letter acronym (TLA) is rapidly becoming the standard for delivering carrier services, dial tone and even video.
In contrast to traditional telephony where services were delivered to your business over physical wires that connected your phone system and your local exchange carrier to the public switched telephone network (PSTN); SIP trunks are provided by an internet telephony service provider (ITSP). SIP trunks are “enabled” in your company’s voice server (better known as your IP-PBX or VoIP system), which resides on your data network and utilizes bandwidth from your broadband service provider, allowing external calls to flow in & out of your organization. So in very basic terms SIP trunking is a VoIP phone service, that integrates with your IP-PBX. In most cases, this will result in substantial cost savings, along with a wealth of other benefits that we’ll discuss. Here are the Top 4:
1. Cost Savings – many SIP trunking providers offer competitively priced “unlimited” calling packages. This means that the amount of your phone bill remains the same every month, with the exception of 2 variables – toll free and international calling; both of which are priced lower than traditional carriers.
2. Scalability – SIP trunks can be added one at a time; whereas a PRI is scaled in increments of 23 trunks. Here’s an example: Let’s say that your office is currently being supported by a PRI circuit (which equates to 23 concurrent inbound or outbound calls), but the capacity isn’t enough. In order to increase call capacity, you would have to add a second PRI, essentially doubling your capacity to 46 concurrent calls, along with doubling your monthly recurring cost. With SIP trunks, you can add any whole number, including one, at a fraction of the cost. Staying with this example in a SIP trunk world, you may only need to add 5 lines, so SIP would give you a significant cost advantage over PRI.
3. Portability – the next time your office moves, you won’t have to give up the main phone number that your clients have been calling for the past 20 years. SIP trunking allows you to “port” your numbers across town or across the country. SIP also allows you to establish a local calling presence; sometimes used for advertising for example, without requiring a physical location.
4. Business Continuity – outages are typically thought of as being caused by a natural disaster. However, this could also include interrupted service, power outages, equipment failure, loss of connectivity, or some other catastrophe. SIP trunks are equipped with built-in disaster recovery. This means that if the ITSP is unable to register their service with your IP-PBX, then inbound calls will automatically & immediately “failover” to a predetermined alternate destination. The failover can be any 10-digit phone number.
One valuable lesson that we learned during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was that failing over to a voice mailbox or auto attendant “in the cloud” gave everyone the best opportunity to capture inbound calls, be notified immediately via email, and to be in a position to return those calls in less than 1 minute of the caller leaving the message. How’s that for being responsive?
Other SIP Benefits:
- Ease and speed of deployment – new services can be established in hours or days; compared to traditional telephony services that took weeks or months. And IDeACOM can activate your SIP trunks remotely, which saves time & money.
- Productivity app’s – SIP trunks allow you to take advantage of productivity app’s in your IP-PBX. The most common is “find-me / follow-me”, which simultaneously rings your cell phone when your office extension is called. This is extremely beneficial for the road warriors and senior executives in your office. So if you want to be responsive and be able to answer calls when you’re on the go, you need this.
- Another option is to download a SIP mobile client on your smartphone. With the SIP mobile client, you can dial extension numbers from your smartphone, send your company’s caller ID when placing calls, change your presence status (in a meeting, not available…). And if you have wifi network access, your Smartphone’s voice & data calling plan is ignored. Think about the possibilities if you have staff that travels globally. You can eliminate their international roaming and long distance costs.
- Caller ID – not only do you capture inbound caller ID, but you can send the appropriate outbound caller ID. For example, all users will send your company’s main number by default, except for those that would prefer to send their direct inward dial (DID) number. And still others can send your company’s toll free number or departmental DID number, in an inside sales or customer service capacity.
- Carrier-grade conferencing quality – legacy phone systems were well known for their poor conferencing quality; specifically very low volume. The conference initiator was usually forced to play translator because the outside parties could barely hear each other. Contrast this with conference calling over SIP trunks in an IP-PBX and you’ll have little to no degradation in the volume and the sound quality. This also gives you the ability to eliminate or at least minimize outside conference services that you may be paying for.
Given all these benefits, is there a downside to SIP trunking? Potentially, but there aren’t many situations that would prevent us from recommending SIP trunks. The main reason to not deploy SIP would be if high speed broadband was not available. This includes DSL, T1, bonded T1’s, and low bandwidth cable in rural or distant areas. The lack of a high speed broadband service is a show-stopper for SIP trunks.
Another cause for concern is if you’re trying to deploy SIP trunks on a legacy PBX or digital phone system. Although SIP to PRI or SIP to POTS gateways exist, they’re expensive and introduce another variable & point of failure in the connectivity of calls. Ideally you want your phone system vendor directly involved, so beware of providers that want to lure you with incredible savings that seem too good to be true, or are attempting to sell you the services without your IP-PBX vendor’s involvement. This could spell disaster, especially when your company’s phone numbers are at stake.
It should be noted that despite the type of lines or carrier services that you currently have in place, the good old public switched telephone network (PSTN) is aggressively being updated. And as a result, it’s very possible that some of your calls are already touching a SIP-based carrier network as they traverse various hops en-route to their intra or inter-state destination. And this is highly likely if you’re calling internationally.
In summary, it’s pretty obvious that SIP trunks are a viable, long-term communications solution. In fact, a study by Infonetics Research revealed that the percentage of companies using SIP trunking will rise from 38% today to 58% by 2015. The study also stated that the biggest reasons companies fail to deploy SIP trunking are because their existing service contracts are not up for renewal yet, or they’re happy with their existing voice services.
And remember, you can always rely on the specialists at IDeACOM to help you understand the pros and cons of your specific situation. IDeACOM Communications Group is a uniquely positioned local VoIP service provider with a nationwide; check that, worldwide reach. We’ve become the VoIP specialists that you continue to depend on with confidence. Let us know how we can help you maximize your results with today’s technology and business solutions.