Company owners are always looking for ways to reduce operational costs and optimize business processes. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a group of technologies and standards for delivering voice and multimedia over broadband IP-based networks, and has emerged as one of the best (and easiest) ways for businesses to communicate today.
But VoIP, on its own, still requires the right infrastructure in place to guarantee high-quality communications. That’s where the term SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking comes into play.
SIP trunking is a product that enables an IP-enabled PBX to communicate with VoIP, and generally includes traditional PSTN connectivity and plays an important role in ensuring your communications remain crystal clear from end-to-end.
But what are SIP trunks, and why are they so important when it comes to VoIP?
What Is SIP Trunking and How Does It Relate to VoIP?
Communications technology is full of industry terminology that you’ll need to be familiar with as you get started. Here are a few of those terms we feel are worth knowing:
- VoIP. Voice over Internet protocol isn’t a new technology by any means. However, it’s seen massive adoption rates in recent years because of how accessible it is in the digital world. Businesses can transmit voice data over IP networks rather than through traditional telephone lines. VoIP encompasses a variety of equipment, software, platforms and packages to simplify the entire communications process.
- PBX (Private Branch Exchange). This is an enterprise-grade telephone system that’s most price-efficient for multiple users wanting to make phone calls in an office.
- Hosted VoIP. This is a communication system that a provider hosts on its own equipment before delivering it over the Internet to the client business. The receiver of the service does not need to maintain any equipment on-site for VoIP.
- SIP Trunking. This is a form of VoIP service. It connects a business’s on-site PBX system with the VoIP service provider. This way, the client furnishes its own hardware (the PBX) in order to make and receive calls through the SIP trunk. SIP allows for long distance calling, video calling, and even Internet browsing.
The term “trunking” comes from an era when communication was mainly analog. Trunks were bundles of wires that connected a phone carrier to a client company. Nowadays, SIP trunking uses digital “wires,” and businesses can add additional channels without the need to invest in costly physical infrastructure.
What Are the Differences Between a SIP Trunk and a SIP Channel?
Trunks and channels cannot be used interchangeably, and this misconception is responsible for much of the confusion regarding SIP pricing.
A SIP trunk merely connects your business’s phone system with external networks, whereas a SIP channel allows for an incoming or outgoing call. Think of a trunk as a tunnel on a highway and a channel as a lane.
Companies only need a single trunk with multiple channels to handle multiple simultaneous calls. For this reason, vendors charge based on the number of channels the organization uses.
What are the advantages of SIP Trunking along with VoIP for your business?
With hosted VoIP, the business does not have to maintain its own software and hardware. Plus, service providers often include additional PBX features too. So why would anybody choose SIP trunking over hosted VoIP solutions?
- Control. Because the organization does not depend on an external company for its VoIP service, it has full control and can customize the system to its own preferences, including feature sets and upgrade paths.
- Cost. While the upfront investment may be higher, the long-term cost per call with SIP trunking is much less. If your company deals with high call volumes or international communications, SIP may be your ideal option.
- Simplicity. SIP trunking allows you to combine your Internet data and phone lines into a single network.
- Scalability. You can have as many channels in your trunk as you want. Adding extra lines is easy, as no physical setup is necessary.
- Security. Disaster recovery is relatively easy with SIP trunking. Companies have measures in place to ensure that you can still make calls during network outages. Redundancy and direct call routing are two ways to do so.
SIP Trunking vs. PRI
If you’ve been researching business phone systems, you’ve probably run into the term PRI (Primary Rate Interface) before. It’s similar to SIP, but these are the important differences.
- PRI uses traditional physical phone lines, whereas SIP uses an existing Internet connection.
- PRI works excellently with older phones that can’t use VoIP and continue to work even during network outages, unlike SIP.
- SIP is more scalable and cost-effective in bulk, making it the ideal choice for businesses.
- PRI requires in-house maintenance staff, whereas much of SIP comes with third-party support.
Requirements for SIP Trunking
Before you head out and onboard a SIP trunking system, here are some considerations regarding the new network and what preparations your business needs to undergo first.
- Analyze your business’s communication needs. How much bandwidth will be necessary? Are there any features or add-ons that would be useful?
- How much call volume will you be expecting? A common benchmark is to purchase one SIP channel for every three potential users in the organization, though you should increase this number if you receive consumer complaints about wait times.
- Remember to purchase SIP-enabled IP phones and other network upgrades you may need.
- Keep in mind that security systems, credit card machines, and other devices in the business may not be compatible with the new network. As a result, it’s wise to retain a few landlines for legacy compatibility.
- In fact, you should keep a legacy landline just in case there are any technical problems.
- Consider investing in SBC (session border control). It’s essentially a firewall that protects your SIP network from hackers.
Luckily, VoIP systems tend to play well with modern smartphones, which most employees will already have.
Expected Costs of SIP Trunking
The total cost of SIP adoption varies between businesses, but is almost always a favorable amount compared to that of traditional communication systems. Some of the charges you will avoid may include:
- Costs of incoming phone lines
- Long distance charges
- Maintenance fees
- Usual higher costs of older technology
SIP Trunking typically comes in 2 different types of pricing options: pay-as-you-go service where an end user would pay for all usage, or a session-based offering where certain usage/call types would be included in the service mimicking traditional PSTN trunking products. Pricing and specific offers can vary widely between providers, ranging from $10-$25 per session. Enterprises using SIP Trunking would typically have additional costs outside of direct costs of the SIP trunking product, which may include IP-PBX and enterprise SBC licensing and maintenance.
Some service providers give you the option of “concurrency bursting” if your business faces fluctuating call volumes. That is, you can temporarily boost the number of lines available when the need arises.
This level of added flexibility is what makes SIP trunking so advantageous for businesses. Rather than paying for throughput you won’t use — with the SIP trunking model — you only have to pay for the SIP channels you need.
An Enhanced VoIP Experience Starts with SIP Trunking
SIP trunking offers a variety of benefits over traditional landlines and even hosted VoIP. Still, businesses should think carefully about how useful it would be for their purposes and how they can switch to the new system smoothly.
For most businesses, SIP trunking provides significant cost savings, enhanced flexibility, and a seamless experience for everyone involved.
Are you looking for a reliable SIP trunking provider? Voyant can help your organization improve your existing VoIP systems with our award-winning network and SIP Trunking solution.
Get in touch with our experts today to learn more about our SIP trunking services and how we can empower your business.