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Exploding some of the myths around SIP

Saturday, 11/07/2015

A Review of SIP by James Arnold-Roberts, Genius  CEO

SIP trunking is now the standard for voice, enabling VoIP connectivity for traditional PBX systems, delivering a cost effective alternative to ISDN and supporting the diverse range of features in modern unified communications. But despite a general consensus on these benefits, there are still plenty of myths surrounding SIP. Let’s take a closer look at some of the concerns.

Myth – It’s a new and unproven technology

Session Initiated Protocol has existed for over 20 years and SIP trunks have been used for around 10 years, so the technology has been well tried and tested. Although SIP can’t really be called a mature service just yet and providers are still evolving their approach to provisioning and support, substantial expertise exists within the market – and there is significant case study proof to evidence the value of its deployment.

Myth – It will compromise network security

Network security is a priority and some businesses are wary of SIP capabilities in this area after hearing stories about fraud and denial of service attacks. Fact is, if SIP trunks are correctly implemented, connectivity should be much safer than it was previously. There’s no way you’d connect a corporate PC network to the Internet without the protection of a firewall to police and control data flow – and a private voice network also needs to be safeguarded against external threats.

There are different approaches to addressing this issue – one of the most common is to deploy Session Border Controllers to protect and help manage SIP traffic. SBCs secure the IP border for interactive communications that flow outside an internal network, acting as a sort of advanced firewall for real-time communications and solving multi-vendor SIP interoperability problems. They prevent unauthorised access and malicious attacks, encrypt traffic and hide the topology of an internal network from external view. So, SIP trunks are by no means insecure, if planned and installed correctly.   

Myth – Call quality will suffer

One of the legacies of ISDN is its reputation for supporting excellent voice quality. As a result, some businesses are concerned about the ability of SIP to deliver the same quality. However, because SIP trunking uses private IP connections specifically designed to carry voice, it comes with quality of service guarantees that ensure call delivery of the same or often better quality than ISDN. Reputable providers will provide a dedicated support team to make sure these SLAs are maintained.

Just as important, voice quality is also largely dependent on the performance of the network that delivers the call. If the network has any latency, packet loss or poor jitter rates then the quality of calls will be affected. For this reason, SIP works better with an uncontended network, optimised to deliver sensitive traffic like voice and video.

Myth – It’s too expensive

Switching to a SIP enabled solution should result in significant cost reductions. For example, the business will not have pay ISDN rental line costs and will normally have access to lower call rates to UK destinations or mobiles. Also, calls between connected business sites are free, even if they are between international locations. This could mean savings of up to 50% on line rentals, and 25% on call costs. In addition, SIP trunking enables organisations to avoid expensive call-forwarding charges that could accrue if they need to relocate or deploy a business continuity solution.

Myth – Switching will be difficult and complex

Perhaps the main reason for the increasing popularity of SIP is its ability to help simplify and streamline business communications, particularly for multi-site companies wanting to capitalise on the full benefits of unified communications. As technology continues to evolve at a pace, the inadequate capabilities and cost of ownership of legacy solutions will increasingly compromise the ability of businesses to remain competitive. SIP is flexible, scalable and easily adapts to changing business needs. With a sound implementation plan in place and on-site support from the service provider, it’s also straightforward to deploy.

The reality

Of course, there are best practices that need to be followed to leverage the benefits of SIP, such as the rigorous testing of SIP options and the strict adherence to quality of service standards. For example, redundancy and diversity are both necessary to ensure reliability and business continuity. Organisations also need to plan for future SIP trunking expansion as their businesses grow, as well as consider how SIP trunks can be deployed across disparate locations to assist in disaster recovery and minimise outages.

In reality then, I see SIP enabling a new era of truly unified communications where businesses can operate seamlessly across time zones and geographies – a world where everyone is connected whatever their device, wherever they are. Are you ready to make that connection?  

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