What is SIP?
It’s a new way to make voice calls. Essentially, SIP delivers phone lines “virtually”: calls are made across the Internet. There’s no need for physical connections to the outside world, other than broadband. That means no longer being dependent on BT and waiting for the next available engineer’s visit in order to get (re)connected.
It’s not a new technology, but it is only now coming to the fore as high bandwidth connections – which are needed for voice quality – have improved and continue to do so.
Why should we care?
BT Group CEO, Gavin Patterson, announced in the company’s 2014-2015 results statement that the UK ISDN and PSTN networks are to be switched off. All customers must migrate to an IP network or lose service. This would negatively impact companies’ ability to do business if an alternative isn’t in place. But if we take a step back, we can see that the way we work has changed dramatically since the introduction of “traditional” phone lines anyway:
- We expect an “always on” service for both members of staff as well as customers.
- We’re used to having services (and associated costs) that are scalable, both up and down according to requirements.
- The technology itself is converging: IT and IP telephony (Voice) are coming together under one roof. This is reflected in the growth in telecoms increasingly becoming the responsibility of the IT department (52% and growing, according to last year’s Timico survey).
But what does SIP mean for business?
Unlimited capacity, quickly
Your customers won’t be greeted with busy lines if they need to reach you; it scales according to demand. Under the traditional model, when an ISDN-based company wants to increase the number of lines they have, it involves a visit from BT Openreach to hang copper from the nearest telegraph pole or route fibre underground to their premises. This can take weeks, or months.
Provided the bandwidth exists to handle the traffic, SIP channels (phone lines) can dynamically be added or subtracted as required. This enables a business to ramp up the number of SIP channels within minutes, with no additional equipment, engineer visits or installation costs.
Calls themselves can be 40% - 60% cheaper using SIP compared to physical lines’ rental and call charges, but the cost of the traditional lines themselves (bought in channel blocks known as ISDN2E and ISDN30E) can also quickly add up:
A minimum of 2 additional phone lines using ISDN2E costs £250.00 + VAT. A minimum of 8 additional phone lines using ISDN30E costs £960.00 + VAT.
An additional Interface Card is often required in a phone system to handle any new lines, adding to costs, as does the associated engineer’s visit which is required to install the card (out of hours unless you are prepared to accept system downtime). ISDN30E often involves additional ‘construction charges’ as trenches might need to be dug to route the new fibre.
Traditional ISDN phone lines conduct voice signals at 64 Kbps whereas standard SIP calls reach 120 Kbps. This means that companies adopting SIP can make and receive HD quality voice and video calls, assuming their phone systems and handsets are compatible.
Unlike ISDN, which is physically linked to a particular location, SIP offers the ability to do business without restrictions on location: numbers can be easily diverted to alternative locations. That means being able to accommodate flexible working, or the option to work from home, such as those returning to work after maternity leave, or when snow has prevented staff getting into the office.
A company can still operate without the need to set up new phone numbers, even if the whole company relocates to a new part of the country.
Business as Usual
SIP helps maintain Business as Usual even if the local network fails or damage is caused by severe weather or fire. The Timico survey also found that for 63% of respondents, it would take less than two hours of being unable to make or receive calls before a business suffered reputational or financial damage.
Essentially, SIP supports the practical reality of how business in the 21st century is conducted and opens up new opportunities, cost savings and responsiveness. It represents a logical progression when it comes to infrastructure for today’s organisations.
Taking the first step
Your partner of choice should have proven end-to-end experience in networking, data, connectivity and telecoms, and experts in those fields advising you on what’s right for your company’s business goals.
A trusted account manager who knows your company, understands its strategy and is essentially an extension of your team is an invaluable asset, as well as a single point to call on should changes need to be made or an error occur.
Here at Adept4, we work alongside our customers, guiding you through certain key milestones in defining and implementing a SIP solution:
You can discover more about our approach on this page: 6 steps to SIP.