When businesses think about VoIP, two things usually come to mind – the IP phone on your desk and the service your operator provides on a monthly basis. Otherwise, VoIP is pretty transparent and works just like legacy telephony. At face value, that is true, but under the covers, SIP trunking is increasingly being seen as a key element in the bigger picture migration from legacy to IP telephony.
Unlike that phone on your desk, you can’t see or touch SIP trunking; it’s a virtual equivalent the physical analog trunks that power your phone service. With VoIP, calls can be routed completely over IP networks and bypass the PSTN altogether, resulting in lower telephony costs. Most calls still touch the PSTN, but in time the transition will be complete. SIP trunking is hastening that transition, but there is more to consider than cost savings. Here are three additional benefits.
Aside from reducing your current telecom spend, you can also control your spending moving forward. Analog trunks – PRIs – must be leased in fixed quantities; a T1 has 23 fixed lines. Businesses often overpay for trunking since they must take the full complement even if they only need a few more lines. With SIP trunking, you can truly right-size spending on trunking to take only what you need. Of course, this also means you can reduce some core costs by replacing legacy trunks with less expensive SIP trunks.
This flexibility is especially attractive for businesses that are either fast-growing or highly seasonal. During peak demand, SIP trunks can be added as needed and then scaled down when activity tapers off to normal levels. Similarly, when adding new employees or opening new offices, SIP trunks can be provisioned quickly at the required level needed – not more and not less. Branch offices in particular benefit by not needing physical network infrastructure at each location to support telephony – virtual trunks can easily be extended from a centralized HQ server across the LAN.
This is an important IT consideration, as SIP trunking provides more control for centralized administration and management across the network. IP telephony allows end users to customize features and preferences, which makes their life easier, but harder for IT. Since VoIP rides over the data network, it can integrate with other modes and applications – something that legacy telephony does not do. As such, this opens up a new world of possibilities – both good and bad – that IT needs to be on top of.
SIP trunking does that by providing a direct connection between end users and IT. This becomes even more important when other IP and Web-based applications are considered – all of which would be accessed via SIP trunks. Think about how applications such as video chat and streaming can impact network resources and potentially expose the network to security threats. This is a complex topic, but in short, SIP trunking gives IT more control in terms of setting security policies across the network along with prescribing levels of accessibility for employees across various applications.
Leverage IP communications
While SIP trunking will be usually used for VoIP, it also sets the foundation for richer applications that take fuller advantage of what’s possible with IP. The key is to provide end-to-end IP connectivity, and when that is in place, VoIP’s performance can actually surpass that of legacy telephony. SIP trunking makes it easy to deploy wideband codecs across the network, from which HD audio and video – High Definition – can be supported.
The quality improvement with HD can be a differentiator in many areas of the business – customer service, training, product demos, sales pitches, board meetings, etc. Businesses may not need these capabilities right away, but this should be part of your thinking when considering SIP trunking.
Jon Arnold is Principal of J Arnold & Associates, an independent telecom analyst and strategy consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario. The consultancy’s primary focus is providing thought leadership and go-to-market counsel regarding IP communications and disruptive technologies. You follow Jon’s everyday insights on his blog and on Twitter.Tags: Software,Technology