From the Enterprise VoIP Experts

October 28, 2008

What SIP Means to Me

By Co-founder of IP Communications

SIP can be defined as follows:
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an Internet Engineering Task Force standard protocol for initiating an interactive user session that involves multimedia elements such as video, voice, chat, and gaming.

It was only yesterday when a client moved out of their Local Exchange Carrier’s rate center they had to abandon their phone numbers or pay the carrier for remote call forward, Foreign Exchange service or other costly solutions. Now depending on how many numbers the client needs to be forwarded this could be a costly endeavor and of course a headache to deploy, timing being a guess and a gamble.
SIP can set you free from the chains of the Rate Center. There are many carriers delivering SIP technology Bandwidth.Com, Broadvox, CBeyond, Excel, Voxitas, Nex Vortex, Paetec, Prescient Worldwide, McLeod USA, Vocal-Net to name a few. There are many packages offered by the various carriers ranging from under $10.00 per month to packages including Internet bandwidth and local and long distance. Some carriers require you to use their bandwidth and bundle SIP services with it. Some carriers will sell you the service and deliver the product on anyone’s internet pipe, but remember to ask the carrier how much bandwidth to budget for your client’s needs.
There are several ways to deliver SIP, and you must pick the right one for you. Your carrier will help you with this decision. There are also a few caveats to keep in mind. The first one being: “is there enough Real Estate in my system to handle the extra trunks?” If you have a key system, you can have SIP delivered as a Central Office Line on an Analog Terminal Adapter (ATA) usually provided to you by the SIP carrier. The cost of the ATA is dependent on how many appearances of the trunk you need. Various companies manufacture these devices, your carrier will provide you with the correct tested and approved ATA and provide instructions on how to access and program it in the event of a failure.
SIP gateways are also available for the user who needs many numbers delivered. Some phone system manufacturers have SIP gateways built right into their systems. Make sure that your carrier can support the proposed SIP equipment and that the equipment manufacturer has approved and tested your proposed SIP carrier. Most equipment manufacturers have a list of approved vendor’s right on their web sites and SIP carriers boast a partnership with these equipment manufacturers on their Web site as well.
Timing can be a killer if you act too late. It is a good idea to have all of the paperwork signed and delivered to the carrier at least five weeks in advance of the move date. Between the new carrier and the porting approval of the existing carrier and equipment installation, you may have time to spare or the date can be totally missed. Some carriers are real sticklers with the paperwork, if the information such as name, number or address are not exact they will refuse the port and the port clock resets to zero. At this point, you need to find the errors, fix them and re-submit the paperwork.
There are a few “Gotcha’s” to avoid and they are:
  • Are you in contract with your current carrier and how much will it cost to break?
  • Do you have 800 services with your current carrier, and what will happen to it when you switch carriers?
  • Will your new bandwidth provider deliver enough bandwidth to support SIP?
  • Sometimes SIP providers need a static IP from your client, did you order any or enough IP addresses for your client?
I speak to my clients and prospects every day, I preach the benefits of SIP and 95% of the SMB market place has not a clue what SIP is. SIP technology seems to be the telecom world’s best kept secret at this point, so when a client or a prospect asks you ‘what’s the good word,’ your response will be SIP is the word.

Zig Fekete is co-founder of IP Communications in Stamford, Connecticut. To read more of his columns, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Greg Galitzine