The SIP Forum Updates Technical Recommendations for Interoperability

If you’ve visited our blog very often, you know that we try to talk about SIP trunking, VoIP, and unified communications in a fairly non-technical way that makes sense to folks who aren’t immersed in telecommunications details every day. (In other words, people not like us.) We think that most businesses can benefit from SIP even if they don’t have a telco expert on hand, so we try not to over complicate it.

Today, however, we want to give you a look at something that has happened behind the scenes in the industry. Even if the technicalities aren’t clear, we hope you are glad to learn that some really smart people are thinking about how to improve the way SIP systems function and ensure that they will be able to meet the needs of businesses far into the future.

The SIP Forum

The SIP Forum is an industry association that includes members from many leading IP communications companies. Its goal is to advance the adoption and interoperability of IP communications products and services based on SIP.  The Forum promotes SIP as the technology of choice for the control of real-time multimedia communication sessions throughout the Internet, corporate networks, and wireless networks. It works to achieve high levels of product interoperability and provide information on the benefits and capabilities of SIP.

Version 2.0 of the SIPconnect Technical Recommendation

On January 24, 2017, the SIP Forum announced that it has ratified Version 2.0 of the SIPconnect Technical Recommendation, with the unanimous approval of the SIP Forum Board of Directors. The new version of the recommendation was developed by the SIP Forum’s SIPconnect Task Group. It is an addition to Version 1.1, which was ratified in 2011. The new version provides a more extensive and standardized set of guidelines to ensure interoperability between SIP-enabled IP-PBXs and service provider networks. While the original version addressed basic network registration, identity management, call origins and terminations, the new edition tackles security, emergency calling location, early media, and IPv6.

“Because of the SIP Forum’s consensus-oriented approach to developing technical specifications, this updated SIPconnect recommendation drew a wide swath of participation from leading companies in the IP communications industry, In addition, the effort greatly benefitted from the involvement of International participants,” said Marc Robins, President and Managing Director of the SIP Forum. “These participants have been very active in the SIPconnect 2.0 Task Group effort, and submitted comments, suggested edits and other useful information as the work progressed. The SIP Forum also owes a debt of gratitude for the work and commitment to the project from Spencer Dawkins, who served as the SIPconnect 2.0 Task Group Chair and as SIP Forum Technical Director, and to Andrew Hutton, Unify and to Gonzalo Salgueiro, Cisco Systems, for serving as the primary document editors.”

Why is It Important?

We’ve written before about the fact that the days of the legacy PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) are coming to an end. SIP is the dominant industry standard for signaling in support of voice calls over the internet (VoIP). Adoption of SIP trunks is growing at an astonishing clip. Supporting the aging PSTN equipment is becoming more and more difficult and expensive and the move to an all-IP infrastructure is accelerating. The new recommendations for interoperability will speed the path.

According to Spencer Dawkins, President at Wonder Hamster Internetworking LLC, SIP Forum Technical Director and Chair of the SIPconnect 2.0 Task Group, “SIPconnect 2.0 reflects implementation and deployment experience beyond SIPconnect 1.1, and provides a solid basis for SIP trunking that removes the last technical reasons to delay TDM replacement.”

Andrew Hutton, Head of Standardization at Unify, a SIP Forum Director and co-editor of SIPconnect 2.0, agrees, “SIPconnect is the only Open Standards-based SIP Trunking specification in use internationally. Its continued evolution is an important part of the digital transformation of both enterprise and voice service providers as we retire the legacy PSTN infrastructure and transition to All-IP”.

If you are really into this stuff, you can download the full text of the recommendation. If not, the main things to note are that steps are being taken to make SIP technologies even more seamless and integrated; and that the telephone system most of us grew up with is being replaced, day-by-day, with a more modern, flexible and feature rich alternative.