Basic Telco Concepts that SIP Users Should Understand

If you are intimidated by the idea of using SIP trunking for your business’ voice connection because you are not a telephony communications expert, you are not alone. Telephony can be extremely complex. The industry uses acronyms like they are going out of style and the supporting technology changes rapidly. To really become versed in telco, you’d need to understand networking, switches, routers, codexes, communications software, and much more. That’s why expert telephony consultants can charge so much.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a telco guru to gain the cost savings and convenience of moving to SIP trunks. Modern solutions come equipped with easy to use control panels and complete set up documentation. The best providers also offer a great deal of technical support to help you succeed. There are, however, a few important concepts that you should be familiar with.

Telco 101

The components involved in a SIP solution are as follows:

SIP Diagram

The PBX – The PBX (Public Branch Exchange) is probably what you think of when you think of your “phone system.”  It is the software and hardware that controls calls and other features such as voicemail, hold, call transfer, automated attendants, and so forth. The PBX needs to be configured to work with SIP, but this is generally a simple process that your SIP trunk provider can guide you through.

The PBX needs to be IP-enabled in order to work with SIP. If you bought your PBX in the last seven years or so, it is likely already IP-enabled. If you have an older system, you can still use SIP. You’ll simply need to add one more component, something called an Analog Telephony Adapter, or ATA for short. Even that shouldn’t complicate things too much.

Router – The same router you use for your data connection to the Internet can be used for your PBX. It is, however, important to set up one configuration on your router in order to get the best experience for voice communications. It is called Quality of Service (QoS). This setting makes it so voice traffic takes priority over data traffic on your network. This way, activities that take up a bunch of bandwidth, like streaming video or large file downloads, don’t interfere with your calls. Most business class routers are already equipped with QoS. If yours isn’t, it makes sense to replace it with one that is.

The Internet – Calls placed over a SIP trunk are routed over the internet to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) where they can be connected to any phone number in the world. SIP trunking should only be attempted over a reliable, high-speed internet connection. The good news is that most modern business internet connections have plenty of bandwidth for SIP trunking. (Check out this article if you are unsure.)

That’s about all of the technical infrastructure knowledge you need to use SIP. If you’re still unsure, choose a SIP trunk provider that will let you conduct a free trial. That way you’ll have a low-risk way of putting your toe in the water. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get started.

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