When the term SIP Trunking comes up among IT professionals or business managers it is usually associated with either Hosted VoIP services or direct connectivity with an IP-PBX (phone system). In this month’s article we will explore the scenario where a business is evaluating the option of purchasing an IP-PBX.
The biggest advantages to be had in choosing this path are for multi-location companies who are managing multiple systems across large geographies. The concept is to place a centralized system at a single location and use a private IP network (MPLS) to transmit voice traffic and provide features like voicemail to all the other sites from the single system (see diagram 1).
The advantages are threefold in this approach. First, the management of the phone/voice system becomes less complex and costly. Because there is just one location to manage, instead of a different system at each site, management resources and operating expenses can be minimized. Second, the use of a centralized SIP Trunk to a remote location allows a company to collapse or decommission local phone connectivity services to the remote sites, which also reduces monthly voice expenditures. Lastly, the hardware requirements to connect SIP Trunks to a phone system versus a traditional telephony product such as PRI, copper lines or Trunks are far less complicated and costly.
So why wouldn’t all multi-location companies go out and do this tomorrow? There are several drawbacks to the approach.
The first is the cost of the new system, which may not fit with the budget or capital requirements of the business. Also we have all heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” With this design you are doing just that by relying on a single system and single connection to service all your locations. Additionally, the ability to support all the locations through a single provider and a single connection may not be possible depending on where the remote offices are located. Most providers of SIP Trunking are limited to handling phone numbers and providing local dial tone to areas where they can provide service, which most often does not include areas served by “mom and pop” independent operators. Lastly, there are some devices that still require POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) or copper lines such as alarm systems and elevators or faxes and modems that don’t play nice with SIP.
There are ways to overcome some of these obstacles: the first being diversity at the host site. Adding a disaster recovery or backup site with diverse routing and equipment can prevent catastrophic failures from occurring. Maintaining a small number of lines directly to each site also allows for backup options and the handling of other non-SIP applications.
EarthLink Business can help you set up the right system for your business and overcome any obstacles or risks you face.
If you’re talking to another carrier, just make sure that they offer several options to re-route traffic should the primary connection go down.
At the end of the day, this decision should be made with consideration for both dollars and sense. Good sense, that is.