If you’ve heard a lot about SIP trunking or Session Internet Protocol services lately, it’s because more businesses are moving away from traditional communication networks and adopting Unified Communication or UC systems. They’re making a move to IP-based voice services for cost savings, access to advanced features, and streamlined management capabilities. Businesses are also transitioning to UC or VoIP systems because the FCC and major telephone providers like AT&T have already started phasing out their support of legacy dial-tone services, also called time-division multiplexing or TDM-based voice services. In 2018, Verizon discontinued its ISDN services, a platform used for data exchange, voice, and video. These moves are signaling the transition toward wireless and fiber-based network services. That means traditional TDM services will only get more expensive and offer fewer options. (Source: ComputerWeekly).
Like most changes in life, however, adopting UC services doesn’t happen overnight. It is an evolutionary and multi-step process. Besides our inherent desire to dig in and ‘resist change”, part of the reason for a sticky transition is that organizations want to maximize the investments they’ve already made in their telephony equipment. That’s where SIP trunking services come into play. SIP trunking services use the protocol to provide voice over IP connectivity between an on-premises phone system, and the public switched telephone network (PSTN). A SIP trunk essentially provides a virtual connection between an organization and an Internet Telephone Service Provider or ITSP, either through lines that link the trunk to other IP traffic or through a virtual private network. Services that deliver SIP trunking over Ethernet or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network infrastructures reduce the cost of managing these systems, plus users can take advantage of additional calling features available. SIP trunks also don’t require a dedicated circuit so customers have the flexibility to utilize SIP trunks over MPLS, internet or private line services which can also transport other types of data.
Making a case for SIP trunking
SIP trunking offers more flexibility than TDM services which is a benefit to many customers. The most common TDM trunk type, the T1-PRI, supports a minimum of 23 voice channels, meaning most businesses wind up paying for many more lines than they need over the years. In contrast, SIP trunks can be purchased in any increment and, again, don’t require a dedicated circuit. Call costs are also much lower with SIP and services carry the benefit of simpler billing, often with a predictable monthly service fee for a “bucket” of included minutes from a single vendor. And, instead of operating and maintaining both data and telephone voice networks, one IP-based network meets both needs, so costs are cut again. In addition, SIP offers much greater scalability because users can be added easily without the additional physical infrastructure or local IP-PSTN gateways, eliminating other hardware purchases, installation, and maintenance costs.
Building a seamless transition plan
For many organizations, SIP trunking services are a great way to begin the migration from old TDM-based services to IP-based services. Cloud-based SIP services don’t require a significant investment making them more attractive and a ‘stair-step’ to moving to a full-scale unified communication platform. By starting with SIP technology, organizations can begin a migration path to eventually moving towards full UC at a pace that makes sense for them. Here are key considerations for transitioning to SIP trunking services.
- Evaluate which services are most critical – SIP trunking is the new standard or underlying “transport” technology that enables collaboration and productivity applications. Organizations should evaluate which new services will be most beneficial to the business. For example, collaboration tools like Webex Teams, Slack, all use SIP for the transport technology.
- Look at how to route traffic from traditional TDM applications – Determining how traffic from traditional TDM applications, including fax lines, point-of-sale credit card authorization, alarms, and gates, etc., will be routed over SIP is an important consideration. For example, if you remove your PRI or analog lines to SIP, there are dependencies that may impact your POS systems or credit card processing. It may make sense to carry some of these applications on existing PSTN gateways as technology continues to mature.
- Consider support options – Look for a service provider that offers multiple support methods. While proactive monitoring and remote management capabilities are critical, sometimes in-person support is needed too. Truck rolling means service providers will dispatch a technician in a truck to install, move, reconfigure or respond to a service call if needed.
- Don’t underestimate a proof of concept – SIP interacts with multiple systems across your organization, making it crucial to have an integration plan ready. Going beyond a standard demo, ask your provider to walk you through how the system will interact with your business productivity applications.
Organizations evaluating SIP trunking services are finding access to new features and collaboration and productivity applications. By combining voice and data traffic and running it over the same transport, businesses are also benefiting from greater bandwidth utilization and cost savings. At Telapprise, we’ve built SIP roadmaps for hundreds of customers and helped them find other ways to optimize network capacity and control costs with cloud technology. If you’d like help moving beyond traditional TDM-voice, get in touch today!