SIP trunking, as you may already know, is a means of running your business phone calls via the internet rather than using traditional PSTN lines. Ultimately, all of our telephone networks will become IP-based, but many businesses are choosing to make the jump to SIP connections now in order to reduce call costs and improve flexibility.
Let’s take a look at how SIP trunking works and what it can do for your business.
What is SIP?
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signalling standard created by the Internet Engineering Task Force. What it does is to enable the peer-to-peer (P2P) communication between different systems. This can be between IP phones or between computers using softphone software.
Where it gets more complicated is when you want to make calls and receive them from existing PSTN phones. This is where SIP trunking comes in. It allows you to connect your IP-enabled PBX to the wider phone network, thereby streamlining the whole communications process.
By bringing all of your voice communications under one umbrella, you can take advantage of the benefits offered by an international VoIP wholesale provider such as IDT. Plus of course, it becomes easier to implement a unified communications strategy, bringing together voice, video conferencing, email, chat apps and more.
SIP trunking has the advantage that it’s cost effective because you don’t need to pay for more capacity than you use. It’s also scalable so it can adapt to seasonal shifts in traffic or to your business growing. It reduces the need for infrastructure too, making it reliable and low maintenance.
One of the major advantages of SIP trunking for business is that it lets you establish a virtual presence. What does this mean? In essence, it lets you choose how you want to be contacted and how and when you’re available. In practice, this means that your business phone number can follow you to different sites or to a mobile device, so it’s ideal for peripatetic workers.
In addition, you can opt to divert calls at certain times, such as when you’re on holiday or in meetings. It also means that you can receive and make calls on any device, whether it’s a desktop phone or a mobile and all of this is invisible to the caller.
Another significant advantage is that you can centralise all of the calling for your business. You can use the same number regardless as to geographical location. This is known as a single identifying number or SIP address of record (SIP AOR). Or for large businesses, you can have localised numbers even though all calls may be handled by a central call centre. There are advantages for business continuity here too; should you need to move your operation to another site, you can be back up and running again quickly, provided that you have a web connection.
Individuals within the business can have uniform resource identifiers (URIs) that allow their phone numbers and email address to follow them to whatever device they are using. This is an enabler of practices such as hot desking or home working, allowing staff to stay in touch wherever they are located.
Status messages can inform callers if someone is away or unavailable and offer alternatives such as leaving a voice mail or talking to an assistant or colleague.
A SIP virtual presence can help with call centre operations too. Customers can get in touch by text or email as well as by phone and automated menu systems can help to ensure queries are sent to the appropriate staff member, increasing the chances of a first-time resolution. These can also offer self-service options for activities such as account balance checks.
Installing SIP trunking
If you have an existing PBX, you may well find that it already supports SIP trunked connections. Older systems may need to have a SIP/ISDN gateway installed in order to make them compatible. However, many companies take the opportunity to upgrade their systems by doing away with an in-house PBX entirely and hosting their phone system in the cloud. Again, this can deliver cost savings as well as making it easier to scale the system when you need to.
Because it uses the internet, you will need a fast connection in order to take full advantage of it. Most modern fibre connections should be able to cope with this and you can apply bandwidth management if you need to share the connection with data traffic.
Switching to SIP trunking may seem a major undertaking. But since it can use much of your existing equipment and connections, it may be simpler than you think.
Ultimately, it is hard to ignore the benefits it can deliver in terms of business efficiency and cost savings.