What Is SIP Trunking and How Does It Work?
SIP trunking is a technology that enables businesses to send voice and other unified communications services, such as video, chat and messaging, over the Internet instead of traditional phone lines or PRIs (Primary Rate Interface). All you need to enable diverse communications is an IP-enabled PBX (private branch exchange), Internet access, and a SIP trunk.
SIP trunk providers will help you modernize your business communications platform to support a diverse workforce. When people worked together in a single office, physical business landlines were all they needed to talk with each other and those outside of the office. Incoming and outgoing phone calls were made possible via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), where voice was transmitted across a network of physical copper lines.
Thanks to the introduction of SIP trunking, calls no longer need physical lines to connect two points. Instead, you can rely on virtual phone lines that transmit phone calls over the Internet, connecting you instantly with anyone around the world. SIP trunks use a packet switch network that breaks down voice calls into digital packets and sends them across the virtual network to their intended destination.
Related: The Differences Between SIP and VoIP
According to Gartner, companies are migrating their legacy PSTN access to SIP trunking to lower telecom expenses and consolidate their unified communications infrastructures. “SIP trunks can be used to provide cost-effective, ultrahigh availability for critical voice services by using multiple carriers.”
Does Your Business Need SIP Trunking?
Any SIP trunk provider will tell you that SIP trunking is more cost-effective than physical business landlines. It also helps you expand your voice capabilities to multiple forms of communication and scale quickly without the costs and limitations of physical landlines.
As an example of how essential it is to support various ways of working, we can look to COVID-19. With the pandemic forcing the majority of office employees to work remotely, video conferencing became a necessity to enable virtual meetings. Without a way to connect video conferencing with existing landlines, your users have to go outside of the network. SIP trunking allows you to support multiple ways of communicating and collaborating from a unified platform for greater flexibility, security and control over the network.
There are many other benefits of using SIP trunking, but the one of most significance is cost savings. You will see instant savings with long-distance calls. If your employees make a fair amount of long-distance calls, SIP trunking providers can help you avoid expensive phone bills. All calls are considered local and incur no additional fees.
You can also save money and time as you scale. Instead of having to pay a telco company to install expensive new lines as you outgrow your landline capacity or add new locations, SIP trunking providers can add or remove SIP channels quickly and on-demand without any type of physical installation. SIP channels are the number of paths for simultaneous calls or lines of calling and each channel provides the ability to make or receive a single call. This gives you the ability to pay for only what you need at any given time and easily budget for your telecom spending.
Another benefit of SIP trunking is how it allows you to streamline and centralize your network. Instead of paying for and managing separate data and telephone voice networks, you can rely on SIP trunks to convert both data and voice into digital packets that travel over your data network via the free Internet.
Business News Daily explains it this way: “The removal of the PSTN gateway allows the SIP trunk to connect directly to your chosen Internet telephony service provider (ITSP), removes subscription fees, and gives you greater flexibility in how you scale your telecommunications services by providing more bandwidth increment options at lower rates.”
Redundancy/disaster recovery is a benefit every company requires. You can’t afford for your network to go down. When using SIP trunks, you can use multiple providers, giving you instant failover, even if your network connection fails. Your SIP trunk provider can set up a distributed design with two SIP trunks that are geographically separated. Alternatively, they can have the system route calls to different locations or data centers.
How Much Do SIP Trunks Cost?
The cost for SIP trunks will differ depending on the SIP trunk provider. Typically, you will pay per SIP channel per month. This price will include local and long-distance phone calls. Any local, state or federal taxes and/or fees are not included. Some providers will also charge a setup fee, although you can find excellent SIP providers that do not add such charges.
There are other charges to consider, however, you may or may not need certain add-on features. Local DID, toll-free DID and nomadic E911-enhanced DID telephone numbers are examples. If you do need these, expect to pay a monthly price per number, plus a setup fee, generally per number. Ask your SIP trunk provider whether these setup fees are one-time fees or recurring.
There may also be a port fee if you want to bring over existing business phone numbers. You shouldn’t have to pay a monthly price for ported numbers but will likely pay a one-time fee per number you want to port. Ask about volume discounts for ports of more than 10 numbers.
Other add-on features that can enhance your communications capabilities are fax, fax-to-email and email-to-fax, and business SMS. Bringing all of these business services together into one unified communications platform will save you money, time, and effort as you will only have to manage one provider with consolidated billing.
Related: How Are Unified Communications Platforms Different?
How Do SIP Trunk Providers Differ?
As we said, pricing can differ between SIP trunk providers. Talk through each provider’s solutions and rates, making sure you understand all recurring and one-time charges and fees. The provider must take the time to look at your business requirements and infrastructure to be able to customize their quote.
Some SIP trunk providers require you to purchase new IP-enabled phones that they support. Depending on the number of phones you need, this can be quite expensive. Instead, look for a provider that enables you to reuse your existing IP-enabled phones and PBX line/trunk cards.
Of course, the most important element to SIP trunking is high-quality, secure communications. Work with a provider that understands the importance of working with Tier-1 voice carriers and voice quality and security above all else. You should be able to use the carriers of your choice in whatever region(s) your business operates. This will also ensure you get that built-in redundancy for greater network reliability.
You may also find a difference with support. You can get peace of mind if you partner with a SIP trunk provider that offers 24/7 network management, proactive monitoring, and deployment expertise. Your network is likely complicated, and there’s much more to it than pieces of equipment.
You want to work with a provider with a long history of not only SIP trunking experience but unified communications experience. They should be able to optimize your network to include whatever types of technology and guidance will help you modernize, scale, streamline and secure your infrastructure. They will look at everything from bandwidth to security, failover to geographic considerations.
Want to learn more about SIP trunking and how your business can benefit? Contact us for a personalized consultation.