Do I need an SIP trunk?

Posted on: 2016-09-20 | Categories: SIP

The SIP trunking vs hosted VoIP debate has been raging on for years. While analysts argue about their relative merits on blogs and videos, each vendor tries to sell their own solution as the best one. Rather than informing customers and enterprises, all this only serves to further confuse those who aren’t already familiar with the technology.

For businesses that have started thinking about switching away from the PSTN, the first question is usually – How much does it cost? Once they find out that VoIP is far less expensive than any other carrier solution, fears of financial burden are laid to rest. But then comes the more complex part of deploying VoIP – choosing between SIP trunking and hosted VoIP solutions.

What Is SIP Trunking?

SIP trunks are easy enough to understand for most organizations. Businesses generally lease ISDN lines from telephone carriers in order to power voice communication both internally and externally. Companies use PBX systems in order to route calls within various departments and between employees. It allows them to use far fewer phone numbers than would be otherwise necessary i.e. an organization with thousands of employees need not purchase thousands of phone numbers in a 1:1 ratio.

SIP trunks operate in a similar manner except that they are not physical lines made of copper wires. These are virtual ‘trunks’ that connect the organization with the Internet telephony service provider. They are compatible with the SIP protocol which means they can be used with a wide variety of phones, devices and PBX hardware. It is actually a misnomer to refer to them as trunks but the term has been in usage for a long while and is commonly accepted within the VoIP industry as well.

SIP Trunks vs Hosted VoIP

The media frequently paints SIP trunks and hosted solutions as opponents but they reality is that they are more pretty similar in terms of the technology. However the business model, monthly expenses and capital investment required can vary considerably. Generally speaking, the benefits of SIP trunks can be considered to be the drawbacks of hosted solutions and vice versa.

For instance, SIP trunks often require considerable planning and capital investment at the outset but are generally maintenance-free after that. Hosted solutions require nothing more than an Internet connection and SIP compatible headsets to get started but can work out to be more expensive over the long-term. Each alternative is more suitable for some companies under certain circumstances than the other.

Do I Need an SIP Trunk?

There are a number of situations under which a business might prefer SIP trunks rather than hosted VoIP solutions. Organizations that already have expensive equipment such as desk phones, PBX hardware and software would be better served by utilizing SIP trunks rather than starting from scratch with hosted VoIP. The existing equipment can be reused with gateways and adapters to reduce the upfront costs.

Companies which have personnel that are already experienced in IP technologies and VoIP standards can also opt for SIP trunks as they don’t have to hire anyone specifically for maintaining or managing the VoIP system. In-house expertise can be valuable during troubleshooting, quality control and optimizing hardware for VoIP, regardless of the support available from the vendor.

Similarly organizations that have the financial resources to deploy an extensive VoIP system based on SIP trunks should do so rather than purchase hosted services. This is because SIP trunks generally pay for themselves quickly and total cost of ownership is much less than the alternatives. With hosted service offerings, there is no change in the cost per call regardless of whether the client makes a few calls per day or a few thousand. With SIP trunks the more calls you make, the lower your cost per call.

SIP trunks provide a high degree of control and flexibility for organizations that have complex communication requirements. The entire system can be customized and changed as per your needs whenever necessary. With privacy and security of data are becoming more important with every passing day, control over your own systems is invaluable.

Are SIP Trunks Always Better Than Hosted Solutions?

After finding out the benefits of SIP trunks, organizations may wonder why companies opt for hosted solutions at all in the first place. However the answer is that just as SIP trunks are more suitable for some organizations under appropriate conditions, hosted solutions may also be the better alternative under others. They can be easier to deploy and quicker to get off the ground. They don’t require much investment which can be a boon for small businesses.

In fact many organizations are starting to utilize a mix of both SIP trunks and hosted solutions to suit their particular organizational structure instead of depending on a single system. Given the rapid pace of innovation in the industry, we may even see hybrid solutions that combine the benefits of both with none of the drawbacks in the future.