What Is SIP Trunking?

SIP trunking and what it can do for you

Reliable telephone communications are essential for any business, but the options can be both vast and confusing. If you are not familiar with the technology behind some of these systems, it is important to get a better understanding before you make your choice. Session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking is a popular solution for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) systems.

Learn how SIP trunking works and what benefits it offers so you can decide if it is right for your business.

Understanding SIP

In order to appreciate the value that SIP trunking can bring to your business’s telecommunication needs, it is first helpful to understand what SIP is. SIP is a protocol for controlling multimedia communications, such as VoIP, video conferencing and instant messaging, over the internet.

Originally designed to mimic the characteristics of traditional telephone networks, SIP creates, modifies and terminates multimedia communications between two end points - any device that can transmit and receive said communications. With SIP, users can make and receive communications from any location, and be identified on a network wherever they are using it. Subscribing to a SIP trunking service offers many advantages to how your business operates. First, SIP trunking involves a lower cost per call by allowing easier employment of VoIP. It also more efficiently uses bandwidth through call compression, improving call volume capacity and reliability .Keep in mind that while SIP trunking can be a valuable component of a cloud based telecommunications system, there are limitations and trade-offs involved. For example, in the aforementioned call compression scenario you may gain call volume but clarity might be forsaken. Every component offers a unique set of pluses and minuses that reveal themselves first through educating yourself about what they are, and then by applying them to your business’s specific needs to determine the exact right combination.

What SIP trunking does

SIP trunking creates a connection between a private branch exchange (PBX) system - a private company telephone network - and a service provider’s voice network using either the internet or a private data network. A trunk is a single line that carries multiple signals between major switching centers, which connect calls by switching data packets from one network path - the path to a share directory - to another.

With SIP trunking, the internet or private data network takes the place of more traditional telephone systems such as plain old telephone service (POTS) - traditional telephone networks - and primary rate interface (PRI) - the standard for office telecommunications - essentially moving voice communications to the cloud, which ultimately reduces costs while increasing reliability.

When you are using SIP trunking, you can extend your internal VoIP technology beyond your firewall without using an internet protocol-public switched telephone network (IP-PSTN) gateway. This is a simpler configuration that is easier to maintain, operate and upgrade. SIP trunking allows you to streamline your communications while trimming your budget, making it a very appealing solution.

SIP trunking works for:

  • Local calls
  • Long-distance calls
  • Emergency calls (with proper system set-up and provider support)
  • Directory assistance (with proper system set-up and provider support)

What you need for SIP trunking

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of SIP trunking, you will need a PBX that is connected to each internet end user, an SIP provider - also known as an internet telephony service provider (ITSP) - and a gateway to connect the two. The gateway connection becomes unnecessary if you connect directly to the service provider or only utilize the system for linking internal channels, like for inter-office calling.

If you do not have an SIP-capable IP PBX, you can replace this with an SIP media gateway device. This will convert the SIP protocol to a standard phone line or to a PRI connection so you can connect it to your existing equipment, giving you the functionality of SIP trunking with minimal device upgrades.

Depending on your SIP provider, you may have several options for connecting SIP trunking to your network, such as using an existing internet connection, using a third-party internet connection that is set up exclusively for SIP trunking or working with a direct connection between your internet and your ITSP.

Benefits of SIP trunking

SIP trunking lets you take advantage of cloud-based features like an automated attendant to appropriately route calls to multiple locations, busy overflow to manage call volume and disaster recovery so a system failure does not mean your communications are shut down.

Though you have many options for your telephone system, SIP trunking is one of the most affordable. You can expect savings of 40 percent or more compared to PRIs and traditional landlines. SIP trunking also minimizes expenses associated with long distance calls, which is done by connecting two different locations together directly rather than one calling the other as with a traditional long distance call.

SIP trunking is a scalable solution ideal for businesses of all sizes, including those whose demands are likely to change. You can scale up or down as needed on a single channel basis rather than having to buy another PRI with 23 channels when you only need a few, keeping your costs under control and maintaining a system that is the right size for your needs.

If you are looking for an effective, affordable way to improve your voice communications, SIP trunking is a valuable solution to consider. Check out your options and see how SIP trunking can work for your business.