SIP trunks enabling flexible communications

SIP trunks are not just the latest buzz-word. In the world of business telecommunications, it can sometimes seem like things are a little overcomplicated. With so many acronyms, abbreviations and short-hand terms out there, it can sometimes seem a little overwhelming to choose the right system for a business. The term ‘SIP trunks’ is one such term that can sometimes baffle people. However, with so many benefits associated with this system, it’s definitely sensible to find out more about it and how it can help.

The history: ISDN

When mass telecommunications systems first became popular, telephones often relied on the Public Switched Telephone Network (or PSTN). This was an age of simple communication, in some ways: a user could pick up their own phone, dial a number (either directly or via an exchange), and trigger a ring at the other end. The dominant system that eventually grew out of this mode of telecommunications was known as ISDN or, Integrated Services Digital Networks.

However, while ISDN may have been simple in theory, it was also risky. Renting a line over ISDN has become increasingly expensive over the years, especially as other technologies have surged forward in popularity. This has left businesses struggling to find an alternative, especially if they are concerned about potentially losing business if they take their phone system down altogether – but, conversely, failing to gain business if they don’t have an appropriate telephone contact system. The lack of scalability and flexibility with ISDNs, then, is a major factor.

What are SIP trunks?

The crucial difference between a SIP trunk and an ISDN, then, is that the former connects via an IP connection – or, in simple terms, the internet. As with lots of newly internet-based services, it cuts out certain time- and cash-consuming processes that are no longer necessary. While this does not mean that a SIP trunk will never malfunction, it does tend to mean that reliability can be cranked up. The more reliable the internet connection, the stronger the SIP trunk tends to be – so by investing in a good corporate internet connection, it’s possible to achieve a knock-on effect for phone calls.

SIP trunks have changed

SIP trunks and IP telephony once had a reputation for hosting calls that were low quality in nature and that were not quite as dependable as those placed over the traditional – albeit more expensive – ISDN networks. This was, perhaps, to be expected during the early days of the internet, when voice over IP solutions were still scrambling to find the best technical solutions to the problem of managing such demand for transmission. However, since then, a huge amount of investment has been poured into the voice over IP world – and it is now the case that companies are able to offer top-quality SIP trunk solutions.

Now, though, this has changed significantly – and in the modern age, there are plenty of technical benefits to SIP trunking. Broadband networks, for example, can be set up in such a way that the SIP trunk is prioritised – meaning that the quality of a voice call can be maintained at all times, even at the expense of bandwidth on other parts of the network. Choosing your priority, then, is simple and easy.

Other benefits

While quality is, of course, a key consideration (and while the changes in SIP trunking are to be welcomed), there are a whole host of other benefits for a business to take into account. For a cost-conscious business thinking carefully about its bottom line, the lower costs involved in switching to SIP trunks is a big appeal. According to some, there’s a possibility of saving up to half when using SIP trunks as compared to conventional ISDN services – so there’s a real opportunity to reduce costs and ensure that the most cost-effective telecommunications system possible is in place.

It’s worth remembering, also, that SIP trunks can be integrated into a firm’s telecoms approach rather than added on as a new, additional service. For many people, this is a primary benefit of the SIP trunking system: it removes the need to have lots of different networks, which can clash as often as they cooperate, meaning a more streamlined, ‘unified communications’ approach – and even the possibility of integrating the trunk with a cloud-based server.

The other main tranche of benefits lies in the flexibility of a SIP trunking system. Because a SIP system is internet-powered, for example, it entirely bypasses the geographical restraints that are often placed on phone systems. Area codes, for example, can be used across the country, even if the call is being placed outside of that geographical boundary.

There’s also something to be said for the ability of a SIP trunk to offer additional features that are still, to many, seen as something of a luxury. As is often the case with legacy services that migrate over to the web, some features of traditional ISDN services that were hard or expensive to come by are now widely available thanks to reduced costs for the provider. Call recording, for example, is often offered as part of a SIP trunk service: this kind of feature tended to previously be restricted to those who had access to systematic telecoms functions, such as call centres.

In recent years, SIP trunks have become popular as alternatives to the old ISDN mode of structuring telecommunications networks. With ISDN now being phased out, the need for change is urgent. For firms looking to cut down on costs, it’s easy to see why SIP trunks are so popular – but the benefits go far beyond just that. This voice over IP mode also offers lots of flexibility to users and allows for everything from area code options to cheap call forwarding. With broadband connections now able to be customised to ensure that call quality doesn’t slip, broken calls are pretty much a thing of the past. In sum, SIP trunks are well worth investigating.