The SIP Carrier Selection Checklist

If you’ve made the decision to switch to SIP trunking for your business communications needs, or at least to consider the possibility, congratulations! You are on your way to significant cost savings, easier network administration, and access to useful unified communications capabilities. As you look for a SIP carrier to become your partner, keep in mind that not all vendors are the same. Their services and infrastructure vary widely, so it is crucial to make sure that the one you select will be a good fit for your specific needs. Here is a handy checklist of the qualifications you should insist on.

☑ The vendor leverages a Tier-1 carrier network

Some SIP vendors use tier 2 or tier 3 networks in order to offer the cheapest alternative, but there is a significant trade off in terms of audio quality, jitter and even loss of dial tone. Tier-1 carriers are directly connected to the structure of the Internet and can be considered part of the Internet itself. They have the highest connection speeds and are the most reliable network. Even with a Tier-1 carrier, SIP trunking is significantly less expensive than the traditional approach, so there’s no need to sacrifice quality for nickels and dimes.

☑ I can add channels on-demand

One of the huge advantages of SIP trunking over legacy PRI lines is that SIP is sold by the channel, with each channel representing one concurrent phone call. This means that you only pay for exactly what you need, which is great until you need more. The best SIP carriers make it easy for you to add new channels on the fly whenever your business grows.

☑ There are no long term obligations

One reason that people want to get away from traditional phone carriers is the long term obligations they require. Don’t go from one commitment to another. Choose a SIP carrier that does not require a contract and that allows you to cancel or reduce the number of channels whenever you want.

☑ I can port my existing numbers and get the new DID numbers I need

Your SIP carrier should be able to work with the telephone carriers to port any existing numbers that you want to keep within 2 weeks. They should also have a large DID (direct inward dial) foot print so that you can get any new local or international numbers that you need.

☑ The network is redundant to ensure business continuity

All of the SIP providers that you consider should have more than one gateway for routing SIP calls.  Additionally, the gateways should be in geographically dispersed locations to ensure uninterrupted service in the event of a technical failure or local emergency.

☑ The carrier provides set up help and long term support

SIP trunks are easy to deploy and use, so a ton of support usually isn’t necessary, but you want to make sure that the vendor offers assistance, with their own resources, if you should ever need it. Also check out their help and configuration documentation.

☑ There are no hidden costs

SIP pricing can be a bit tricky, so make sure that the provider you choose is upfront about all of the initial and ongoing costs. In addition to the monthly charge for each SIP channel, you can expect to pay for DIDs, e911, international calling, and local number porting. There are also federal fees and taxes to consider.

☑ I get a free trial

The best way to make sure that the SIP solution you are considering will work well with your equipment and your broadband connection is to test it. This will also give you insight into how difficult it will be to configure the solution to work with your PBX.

When you find a SIP carrier that meets all of these qualifications, you are well on your way to streamlined communications and lower, more predictable, telco costs. You have lots of options, so don’t settle for a cut-rate solution. There’s no reason that you can’t find exactly what you want in your SIP partner.