People turn to SIP Trunking for their business when they want to reduce costs, add unified communications features and increase flexibility. Expensive PRI lines and long-term contracts can go the way of the Dodo bird, allowing you to pay for only what you need now and grow at your own pace. Implementing SIP trunking is surprisingly simple and you don’t need to be a telco expert to do it, but there are a few steps that are necessary to ensure a smooth deployment.
Step 1: Assess Your PBX
Chances are that your PBX system is compatible with SIP trunking. If it has a data or Ethernet jack on the back, it is probably ready to go. The user manual should have a section that covers configuring a SIP trunk. It will say something like, “IP calling,” or “SIP-enabled.” If you discover that it is not SIP enabled, you will need to purchase and use something called an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). This simple, inexpensive device will handle the analog/SIP conversion. You can get one for from Cisco on Amazon.
Step 2: Figure Out How Many SIP Channels You Need
Unlike PRI lines, which are sold in blocks of 23, SIP trunks are sold by the channel, allowing you to pay for only exactly what you need right now. You can add channels anytime as you grow. Each channel represents one incoming our outgoing call. The number of channels needed is a function of the number of employees and how they use the phones. You usually don’t need one channel for each employee. In most cases, one channel will support three to four employees. Of course, that changes if phone use is heavy. If you have an inside sales team or busy call center, you may need more channels.
Step 3: Check Your Bandwidth
With SIP Trunking, you’ll be using the internet for your voice calls, so it is crucial to make sure you have the bandwidth necessary to experience great voice quality. Most business internet services today provide bandwidth that is more than adequate for VoIP. Chances are that if you have cable, T1, Metro Ethernet or DSL, you’ll be in good shape. (We do have a detailed article on calculating your requirements.)
Step 4: Enable Quality of Service on Your Router
Quality of Service, referred to in shorthand as QoS, is a router setting that prioritizes voice traffic over data traffic. It serves to ensure that other activities (like streaming video or large file downloads) don’t harm the quality of your voice signal. Your router probably already has QoS capabilities, but if it doesn’t, it is really worth investing in one that does.
Step 5: Set Up Your PBX for SIP Trunking
PBX configuration is fairly straightforward in most cases. Your SIP trunking provider will provide you with instructions. Just in case, it is a good idea to choose a SIP vendor that offers to support you during the configuration process.
Step 6: Test Before You Buy
Run, don’t walk, from any SIP provider that won’t let you do a free trial in your environment. This is the only way you can be certain that your SIP trunk, PBX and internet connection will work together to give you the voice quality and reliability you need.
At this point, if the test is successful, you are ready to sit back and enjoy the savings. (Here are some suggestions on how to spend the dough.)