We frequently talk to people who are excited about the benefits that SIP trunking can bring to their business, but are unsure about how to get started. After all, most people don’t try a new approach to business communications very often, and few are telecommunications experts, so it makes sense for folks to be a bit unsure about how to begin. The good news is that the path to SIP’s cost savings is very straight and clear. Here are the 7 simple things you need to do to get on your way.
1 – Select an IP Enabled PBX
SIP trunking essentially connects your phone system to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) via the internet using a communication standard known as IP (internet protocol). Your PBX must be enabled for this capability. The good news is that the one you are using today probably is ready for IP. If it has a jack for an Ethernet cable, you’re likely good to go. If you are unsure, check the user documentation. If your system is not IP enabled, you can still leverage the power of SIP, but you’ll need an inexpensive piece of hardware known as an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). If you want to go with an entirely new phone system, there are several free, open source options that you might consider.
2 – Estimate Your Maximum Number of Concurrent Phone Calls
In order to determine how many SIP channels you will need and to calculate your internet bandwidth requirements, you’ll need to know how many phone calls your business conducts at any given time. This includes both incoming and outgoing calls. In most cases, this is around 3 or 4 for every 10 employees, but it can vary greatly depending on the nature of your business. When you are ready to sign up for SIP, you’ll need one SIP channel for every concurrent phone call.
3 – Verify that Your Internet Bandwidth is Sufficient
Modern business internet bandwidth is enough to support SIP in most cases. If you have a T1, DSL, Metro Ethernet or cable, you will likely be fine, but it is a good idea to make sure before you get started. More detail on how to do this calculation is available here.
4 – Make Sure Your Router has QoS and that it is Enabled
QoS stands for Quality of Service. It is a router setting that prioritizes voice traffic over data traffic. Without it, large downloads or other bandwidth intense activities can cause poor audio quality, latency and jitter. Most business class routers have QoS, but if yours doesn’t, it is worth investing in one that does.
5 – Evaluate SIP Providers
You have lots of choices when it comes to selecting a SIP vendor, but they are not all the same. Here are some questions that you should ask before you make a commitment and here are some provider types to avoid.
6 – Configure your PBX
The steps to configure your PBX will vary by type, but it is generally an easy process that a non-expert can accomplish. During your SIP provider evaluation, be sure to confirm that your chosen partner will be available to help with your configuration and answer any questions.
7 – Test the Solution
Before you sign up for service (and in our opinion, before you provide any credit card information) test the solution with your equipment and in your environment. A reputable SIP trunking vendor will give you a free trial for as many as 60 minutes so that you can confirm the service will work for you.
The switch to SIP should be quick and painless. There should be very little disruption to your business and the vendor should have your back if any issues arise. A recent study by The Eastern Management Group predicts that by 2018, 42% of all businesses will send their toll traffic on SIP trunks. Just follow these easy steps and you can be one of them.