SIP Trunking for business
SIP trunking is a form of telephony that is gaining real traction in the business world. A SIP trunk will connect your premises directly to the Public Telephone Network (PSTN) via IP/broadband. It is commonly sold as a replacement to ISDN, with SIP channel provider Gamma recently reporting, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek, on ‘the death of ISDN’ here. It has also become the medium over which to deliver VoIP telephony. Benefits that are often communicated include reliability, cost-saving, scalability, and flexibility when it comes to a business communications strategy.
But there’s more to it than that. If you are still assessing whether it is worth adopting SIP Trunking into your business communications strategy, then here are 10 things we think you should know:
Know what’s what before you switch.
- More and more British companies are adopting SIP trunking
You are not alone in thinking that SIP trunking is a viable solution for your communications. More and more British businesses are beginning to realise the benefits of this form of connectivity. In July of this year specialist research company illume reported on a significant rise in channels being added to the IP/SIP trunking market, with 1,224,773 being added in the 6 months previous to that report within the UK alone. According to illume, adopters were largely SMEs and large enterprise companies. SIP provider Gamma also announced in August of this year that they had hit the 200,000 mark with its own SIP channels across the UK, and the outlook continues to look bright for the provider. According to Analyst Diane Myers, it is possible that 58% of enterprises will be using SIP trunking in 2015.
- SIP trunks can save you money (no, really)
Every business communications company in the world will tell you how their services and products can save you money, but with SIP trunks it really is possible to cut down on call costs dramatically. IP connections are cheaper than traditional ISDN lines in terms of rental costs. In some cases it is possible to get free UK landline calls using SIP trunking, and much cheaper mobile calls, with significant savings applicable to international calls also. Pricing should be clearly structured and transparent, and SIP trunking does not generally have any hidden costs associated.
However, it is worth noting that cheaper doesn’t always equal better, particularly when it comes to ensuring that SIP trunks are delivered over the right IP/broadband connection. Whilst cost saving is a major priority for many companies, it needs to be taken into consideration alongside a wide range of other factors when it comes to SIP, such as the quality of service or customer support you will receive from your service provider.
- SIP trunks are perfect enablers of Unified Communications (UC)strategies
If you like the idea of combining all of your varied communications needs- whether email, instant messaging, voicemail, video conferencing, and every day telephony- into a single, manageable strategy, then SIP trunking can be a huge enabler of the adoption of UC strategies. A SIP trunk can allow a user to control a unique ID or multiple numbers no matter which network they are connected to or which device they are using. With SIP, your phone system talks directly to the public network, but mobile apps can also connect directly back to the system using SIP (although not in every case, depending on the provider and other factors). SIP also enables more devices to integrate with your network and user resources. Finally, SIP is a great option if you are considering making the move to Cloud, which often goes hand in hand with the majority of UC strategies.
- Some SIP trunks are not compatible with existing IP PBXs
There are a lot of entrants into the marketplace these days offering SIP trunking services, and some of these providers will be offering SIP services that are simply not compatible with your existing hardware.
Which basically means that if you’ve already invested in expensive PBX (telephone exchange) equipment, you’ll need to check compatibility with the SIP channel provider you are considering using. A reputable provider worth its salt will offer a checking service that assesses compatibility and will let you know early on whether or not SIP trunking is compatible with your existing telephone system hardware. Avaya and Mitel do interoperability testing to check this compatibility right at the start of a communications project. A guaranteed SIP channel provider such as Gamma will have tried and tested processes in place, and carry out conformance testing regularly with all of the UK’s IP PBX manufacturers to further remove the risk of incompatibility.
- SIP trunks can help you rationalise your multi-site connections
If your business operates across multiple sites, it is likely that you could have existing ISDN connections to an individual PBX at each site. With SIP this becomes much easier to rationalise, with the number of connections you need being reduced, along with all associated maintenance costs. This also means the costs are minimised to just the IP connection and the handset or endpoint costs at each site.
- SIP is scalable and flexible
The beauty of SIP is that it is extremely easy to scale up or down depending on your business requirements. This is extremely pertinent to companies anticipating a great period of growth or the opposite. The ability to instantaneously add extra trunks as needed, depending on the volume of calls made and received, is what makes SIP trunking stand out to companies looking to increase their capacity to call out and receive calls simultaneously.
Additionally, SIP is extremely versatile and, for example, worth considering for businesses who are moving premises and wanting to keep their existing numbering structure. SIP trunking allows for the easy manipulation of outbound numbers- so, for example, if you have an office in London but need your calls to go out on a Bristol based number, then this is possible. Also, mobile devices can make calls as a particular number, no matter where the user’s location.
- SIP can help you with your seasonal sales strategies
Are you a company that relies upon seasonality? Ecommerce companies and large retailers in particular fall into this category, as does any business where at a particular time of the year their telephony demands are noticeably greater than at other times. With SIP trunking, you can plan for and accommodate this seasonality and easily update your telephony infrastructure to ensure that you can cope. You can increase the number of SIP channels or decrease them as you desire in a fully flexible manner and with great rapidity. This agility is of great importance to companies where it is necessary to have extra assets in place to cope with peak times of the year.
- If done correctly, SIP is secure, despite the rumours
There have been increasing levels of concern about the safety of SIP trunks and in particular, business have been worried about instances of fraud carried out against other companies utilising SIP trunking. Whilst the concerns are understandable, it is worth remembering that, as with anything in life, if SIP trunks are implemented correctly then fraud should not be an issue, and, if anything, connectivity should be much more secure than it was previously. A properly configured SIP channel will allow you to handle your own connectivity via dedicated firewalls or a router with firewalls built in, which is in turn managed by the SIP channel maintainers or by your own IT company, depending on the set up.
- SIP is all about connectivity
SIP Trunking is reliant on connectivity. By this we mean that for SIP trunking to be successful, you need to be aware of your business requirements, such as the volume of calls going in and out of your business, and how large the bandwidth requirement is to support this. Dedicated connectivity for your voice requirements is usually the best way to ensure reliability. However, it can also be feasible to utilize existing connectivity, if your connection is properly assessed and the correct precautions are taken to ensure call quality.
The bottom line is that it is strongly advisable to speak to an expert about your existing broadband connection. A trustworthy business communications expert will always push for dedicated broadband connections with 100% bandwidth available for yours business voice purposes.
- You can be much more resilient with SIP
Being more resilient as a business means being prepared for any eventuality, and having a robust disaster recovery plan and backup facilities in place. SIP can be crucial to this sort of planning. With SIP it is incredibly easy to move or divert fixed lines anywhere you want them to go, regardless of location, without any expensive call forwarding costs. Diverting calls is possible instantaneously, meaning business operations should not be affected in the event of a disaster. With other services you might have to wait up to 24 hours for call diversions to kick in- so SIP removes the risk of impact in any adverse event.