Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony has been gaining traction for some years now, but many businesses have yet to take advantage of SIP trunking, a technology essential for the full realisation of the benefits of VoIP and other tools.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is a communications protocol designed specifically for multimedia communications running over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the typical company network, and the Internet itself. It is most commonly used to underpin VoIP, video call and instant messaging applications.
A SIP trunk is a direct connection between a company network and an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP). Allows VoIP telephony to be extended beyond your firewall without IP-PSTN gateways, SIP trunking can offer diverse business benefits.
Operating over a data link, such as a leased line or even a simple DSL or Fibre Internet connection, a SIP trunk (so called because the data link plays a role analogous to the traditional telephone trunk) can carry a wide range of communications types. As well as voice communications, these include instant messaging, multimedia conferencing, user presence information and enhanced emergency calls.
Peering arrangements can be made between the provider of the data link and the ITSP, effectively extending the company network through to the ITSP. SIP trunking allows VoIP calls and video-conferencing to run "on-net" with Quality of Service (QoS) management in place – such a significant benefit for quality-sensitive services such as these as to be virtually an essential in most organisations.
With this broad capability, VoIP and SIP trunking working together can for many businesses completely eliminate the need for traditional PBX/PSTN based telephony, dramatically simplifying network infrastructure. Immediate, substantial and on-going cost savings are possible, at the same time as expansion and enhancement of communications capabilities.
SIP trunking allows a network infrastructure significantly simpler, more flexible and more scalable than a traditional telephone system – one that is easier and less expensive to design, implement and configure, and, once in place, to run, maintain and extend.
Furthermore, most ITSPs offer digital telecoms services at substantially more attractive rates than their traditionally delivered counterparts (as well as services that are simply not possible over traditional telecoms connections) allowing SIP trunks to deliver a rapid and generous return on investment.
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With the increasing ubiquity of SIP trunking and on-going advances in SIP-based technologies, the range of services available is likely to expand markedly. An excellent example of this is Skype for Business PSTN Calling, which enables users to make calls to and receive calls from numbers on the public telephone network, directly from MS Office 365. The capabilities are extensive, including number acquisition and assignment, voicemail, inbound and outbound calling with landlines and mobiles. These and a range of other features are all seamlessly integrated into Office 365.
The new Skype feature illustrates well the simplicity of VoIP as compared with a traditional telephone system: in (quite literally) a few minutes, all your Office 365 users can be set up with their own phone number and a headset, and they're good to go with a fully functional phone system, built into their desktop. The tool's simple per-user licensing is also advantageous, with no heavy up-front expenditure, and existing numbers can be ported over for continuity.
If you'd like more detail on the issues we've covered in this article, or to discuss how these technologies might benefit your business, please give us a call on 01865 988 217. For more IT news, sign up for our free newsletter, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
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