SIP Trunking in Business Terms
SIP trunking is gaining in all business segments, yet what are the real business issues from a customer and non-vendor perspective?
By David McIntosh & Thomas B. Cross @techtionary
SIP or Session Initiation Protocol means putting your voice calls over your existing Internet data bandwidth. The SIP trunking providers push their lower costs because they don’t include the extra bandwidth you will need, thinking you already have too much. This is really important because you may likely not have enough data bandwidth for all your voice calls. Since voice is 2-way the key metric is not only download but more importantly reliable upload speed. Most internet bandwidth access is asymmetrical meaning very high download speed and very slow upload speed. That is, you may think you have enough download speed for voice and data but not enough reliable upload speed for your voice calls. Check your speed at speedtest.net or other service/app bandwidth and then again throughout the day to see what bandwidth speed you have in both up/down directions.
Yes, many desk phones are SIP phones or SIP “ready” but your business likely requires an investment in these new SIP phones. You can also mix desk phones with smartphone apps.
Telephone company lines are engineered for high quality and have been for more than 75 years. The internet has been and likely will always be “as is” because it was really designed for email which as you know if it or other data gets delayed by minutes or more, you will never know. That is, if your data gets delayed its ok but if voice/video gets delayed by even a 100 milliseconds (sub seconds) it will jitter, jumble, garble, or worse. This is something humans don’t like. Adding more bandwidth does not automatically cure voice problems but it can help at an extra expense.
Like with the predictions in the growth of automobiles, few if any predicted that you might be hurt in an accident by someone texting. The internet was never really designed for security and only if you have sophisticated firewalls, intrusion protection, VPN-virtual private network, spyware/malware protection and more you likely will be hacked. There are many known SIP hack attacks even “call jacking” so yes your SIP calls can be hacked. Plan on adding some sort of SIP security systems.
We presented the other issues first because the SIP trunking providers push hard on the idea of savings over traditional PBX trunks. First, while new telephone systems are SIP “ready”, additional licensing or equipment called media gateways or session border controllers may be needed. Check with your current or proposed telephone system provider. Second, you may already have PBX-private branch exchange lines/trunks that you can keep using. For these typical traditional lines, the telephone company charges $25-45 each. One provider charges $40 each for the first-three SIP trunks and then $25.00 for each additional trunk. Third, prices for internet SIP trunking vary from $10-30 each, depending on term and multi-line discounts. Packages exist that include in/outbound LD-long distance minutes and DID-direct inward dialing numbers for $70 or $110 per month, limited by the number of phones and/or SIP trunks available. Still others charge $270 for PRI-primary rate interface replacement (23 trunks/lines) where a traditional PRI typically costs $300 or more. Taxes and FCC fees are extra on both services. Fourth, depending on your business, if you have to buy more bandwidth for voice, it would negate most of your savings compared with telephone company charges. That is, for 5-lines you would likely be ok, but for 10+ lines/trunks more bandwidth will be needed to be sure. Bandwidth pricing is also in stair-steps though many offer “elastic” bandwidth. You should budget some additional bandwidth just in case at $25-75+ a month. In addition, other locations where you only have a few business lines, SIP may not deliver best quality.
Here are a few examples. 5-lines with PBX trunks would be $225 and $110 for SIP. 10-lines on SIP might be $150 while using a PRI would be $300. 20-Lines on SIP might be $270 while using a PRI would be $300. Add in the soft cost of lost calls, redial calls, E911 registration, lost productivity, etc. you can see your TCO-total cost of ownership including staff time may not really yield any savings. To summarize, if you have less than 10-lines you may not see any real savings. However, 10+ lines SIP trunking is worth looking at.
SIP trunking is not going to save you any money but it can be “priceless” benefit if you have multiple offices, want to connect call centers together, have people working from home or ever worry about disasters where one location is burnt to the ground or mother nature intervenes (e.g. 9/11, hurricanes). Calls can automatically be redirected to another location or locations. In other words, do not believe the hype from the SIP or VoIP providers but look at your business now and where it may be in a year or two and review the issues just mentioned.
If you have another minute or want to know more here is a:
SIP Trunking and VoIP Technical Explanation