Cutting the cord on traditional phone lines and choosing SIP trunking is a smart move for local governments and agencies. Doing so saves a significant amount of money (sometimes as much as 50%), increases flexibility, and simplifies network management. Local governments can enjoy all of these advantages even if they don’t have telco experts on staff.
The key is choosing the right provider. If you ask the right questions and look for the most essential features and business practices, you will experience a smooth implementation and immediate cost savings. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you make the best choice for your community.
1 – Only consider providers that leverage a Tier-1 network
You don’t have to understand all of the ins and outs of the backend of the internet-based communications network, but the one thing you do need to know is that there are big differences between the tier level of carriers. There are some SIP providers out there marketing to local governments and agencies that use tier-2 or even tier-3 networks to get rock-bottom prices. Avoid them.
Only tier-1 carriers are directly connected to the structure of the internet. In fact, they can be considered part of the internet. Tier-1 networks give you the fastest connection speeds and the most reliable network. High-quality voice communications are essential to your staff and community, so don’t trust them to a network that is likely to have poor audio quality, jitter, or even loss of dial tone.
2 – Insist on cost transparency
Regardless of the vendor you choose, there will be several elements that make up the price you pay for SIP service, so it is essential to have a full understanding of precisely what you can expect to pay. (This post covers SIP pricing in more detail.)
In short, you can expect to pay a monthly fee for each SIP channel, set up fees for direct inward dial lines, fees for porting your existing phone numbers, e911 fees, and taxes and regulatory fees. If your agency makes international calls or calls beyond the geographical limits of your subscription, you will pay a per-minute fee for those calls. The provider you choose to work with should be up-front about every dollar you can expect to pay.
3 – Understand the fine print
Some SIP providers require a contract that locks you into their service for a year or more. Alternatively, you can find a vendor like SIP.US that lets you cancel at any time. The reason that we go that route is that we think it is important to earn your trust each month.
4 – Choose the internet provider that’s best for your agency
Some vendors require that you purchase internet bandwidth directly from them. That prevents your agency from getting the best price and most reliable service available for each of your locations. If you choose a SIP trunking vendor that lets your agency choose whatever internet service it prefers, you’ll be able to negotiate better prices and ensure that you have top-quality connections.
5 – Consider customer service
SIP trunking providers that offer services to local governments and agencies provider varying levels of customer service. Some offer only email support, while others choose a separate fee for technical support either monthly or per use. If you don’t have telco experts on staff, you’ll likely need some help at some point, so it makes sense to choose a vendor that will help with your deployment and answer any technical questions that arise.
6 – Get a free trial
The most important recommendation we can offer, by far, is to test the SIP trunking solution with your PBX equipment and internet connection. This is the only sure-fire way to ensure that the solution will work well for you. It doesn’t need to be an extended test but be skeptical of any vendor who won’t provide this opportunity. (You can get started testing SIP.US right now.)
We’d love it if you give SIP.US a chance to fulfill the needs of your staff and community, but even if you don’t, these guidelines can help make sure you get a solution that will be a success.