How Much do SIP Trunks Cost?

Posted on: 2016-07-20 | Categories: SIP SIP Trunking

SIP trunking is a great option for many organizations, especially those that regularly have large volume of calls. Although they can require slightly more maintenance than the true ‘set it and forget it’ hosted service model, it pays off in the form of lower total cost of ownership and increased customizability/flexibility.

What are the costs of SIP trunks?

While the question may appear simple enough, the answer can get a bit complicated. For most businesses, purchasing SIP trunks coincides with an overhaul or upgrade of the entire enterprise communication system. It means that along with buying and setting up SIP channels, they may also be upgrading the PBX system, purchasing new phones and numbers etc. Though they are not directly related to the SIP trunk itself, the resources for the entire program will have to be shared among the various components.

As for the SIP trunk itself, the direct costs fall largely into two categories – initial or setup fees and monthly expenses. Some vendors will charge set up fees for the trunks, number portability, new DIDs etc. while others will charge zero dollars up front while rolling the fees into the monthly billing. There is no definitive answer to which alternative is better but depending on the capabilities of the organization, they may prefer one over the other.

SIP trunk costs

Set up fees

Depending on the vendor, set up fees can range anywhere from 0 to $150. In general, this is a fixed fee which does not change regardless of how many channels you purchase. However for truly large deployments, vendors may provide custom quotes with different setup fees.

Monthly channel expenses

This is a variable charge and depends on how many channels are purchased by the organization. Although the vendor will help you figure out how many channels you need, it is better for the organization to peruse historical call records and calculate the necessary number of channels by themselves. It allows the business to be sure of its requirements and prevents over or under provisioning.

Call charges

As with most calling plans, SIP trunks can be purchased with unlimited or metered calling options. The former usually includes unlimited inbound and outbound domestic and long-distance calls. Metered calling involves paying for each minute that is used for calls. Companies with large call volume generally prefer unlimited calling options and vice versa.

Rates for international calling will not be the same for every country but some providers will include certain countries (such as Canada and Mexico for instance) in the unlimited calling plan. Regardless of the actual numbers, VoIP calls through SIP trunks are generally cheaper than international calls from traditional carriers.

New numbers or number porting

The set up fees, channel and call charges make up the bulk of SIP trunk expenses but there are a number of additional features or options that the provider will offer. Depending on the needs of the business, a number of these options may have to be purchased which can also increase the total cost.

Whether the organization wants to port their existing numbers to the SIP trunk provider or purchase new DIDs, there is usually a charge for it. Number porting is usually a one-time fee while new numbers will incur ongoing monthly costs. Again these expenses will vary between different vendors.

Toll-free numbers and 911 calling

Both these options will have monthly recurring costs and charges can vary considerably between vendors, it is usually quite low. Currently most providers offer some form of e911 calling but it may require individuals users to register their location and keep it updated for it to work. Some operators even charge extra for actual 911 calls made, apart from the monthly charge for providing the service.

Another factor that is frequently forgotten is surcharges, fees and taxes. These are often required due to state and federal laws and vendors typically cannot waive or negotiate them down. However these charges are calculated as a percentage of your monthly bill and since SIP trunks are cheaper than traditional calling, expect these charges also to be correspondingly lower.

VoIP gateways

The organization has an IP enabled PBX system, the SIP trunks can be connected directly and there is no extra hardware to be purchased. However if the business has an existing older generation PBX, it will most likely not be SIP compatible. In that case VoIP gateways will have to be purchased to enable the conversion between SIP and traditional calls. In some cases, the cost would be prohibitive enough that the organization may want to purchase a new IP PBX even if the older one is still functioning.

The cost of SIP trunks is only one part of upgrading to VoIP and the organization can expect to uncover extra costs (upgrading Internet bandwidth for instance) as implementation goes forward. However upgrading to VoIP calling is the more cost-effective option in the long run.