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Everyone's Talking About SIP Trunks

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In reality that might not be quite true, but in my humble opinion they should be.

In a nutshell, SIP – or to give it its Sunday name ‘Session Initiation Protocol’ – is a technology that allows you to make calls over an IP connection, rather than a traditional phone network.

It’s has been around for well over a decade but for most businesses there hasn’t been a really compelling reason to move away from the notoriously reliable ISDN line.

However, things are starting to change and, according to Ofcom figures, the UK's ISDN30 market is likely to decline to less than a million channels within the next couple of years.

It appears that at least some of the decline is directly related to the increase in SIP trunking channels.

One of the reasons that it’s worth talking about it now, when it wasn’t before, is that connectivity has improved massively in recent years. SIP relies on fast internet access and sufficient bandwidth.

For the moment, let’s focus on SIP trunks, although if your connectivity isn’t great then reading further might convince you that you need to reconsider to take advantage of some of the benefits SIP can bring.

As with the adoption of many technologies, there are many factors to consider aside from connectivity and it’s not necessarily a case of all or nothing – and you might continue to run some of your voice traffic over ISDN.

For many businesses, especially those with multiple sites, it’s an opportunity to rationalise or consolidate their requirement for ISDN30 lines - at a time when line rental typically accounts for more than 50% of monthly billing.

SIP offers far greater flexibility than ISDN30 which requires a minimum commitment of eight channels, and when you reach the maximum of 30 channels on your ISDN line you’ll have all of the usual hassle around the installation of a new line. And, of course, that new line comes with the same minimum commitment of eight channels!

SIP on the other hand can be configured, and added to, from as little as one channel at a time and the only limiting factor is bandwidth – and the amount that’s dedicated to voice.

Better still, SIP opens up all sorts of possibilities and advantages that traditional telephony just doesn’t allow.

Numbers aren’t tied to geographic locations, so if I’m working from a different office, I can log in to my extension and take calls as if I was sitting at my own desk.

It’s also possible to re-route calls if one location reaches capacity and that effectively means disaster recovery or business continuity is built in – so if one location is unavailable then calls to those numbers can be picked up elsewhere in the business.

By putting SIP trunks in place, businesses are also taking a step towards ‘convergence’ – which coincidently was the title of a recent Microsoft conference and refers to the idea of using one service to deliver multiple functions.

And with convergence comes ‘Unified Communications’. But that’s probably best left for another day!

In the meantime, if SIP has got you intrigued I’d suggest it’s worth taking a look at the recent case study featuring Universal Sealants for whom we have successfully revolutionised their telephony, and consequently they are reaping the benefits.

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