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SIP Trunking Basics: What Is a SIP Gateway?

Have you ever wondered how important a phone system is to conducting business effectively? Although many may believe most communications take place online, this couldn’t be further from the case. In fact, the phone is one of the top ways many salespeople contact customers and close deals. For instance, many industry experts assert that a salesperson should be making 60 calls a day to maximize their business success. This situation is where tools such as a SIP Gateway come into play. 

Voice calling is an ever-changing technology within the business realm. This is primarily because voice service is one of the most expensive methods of communication, and many service providers charge businesses based on their call volume. However, in the era of the cloud and other online technologies, the landline phone is starting to fade away. Nevertheless, business communications remain as vital as ever. The best option for these calls is SIP trunking, a voice call method requiring a SIP gateway to be as efficient as possible.

Today, we’re going to discuss SIP gateways and what they do. Keep reading to learn why these technologies are essential to conducting business in the modern workplace!

Basics of SIP Trunking and SIP Gateway

Before we can understand what a SIP gateway is, we first need to define SIP trunking.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) software streamlines communication by connecting you to your endpoint over the cloud. SIP trunks connect directly to your Wi-Fi and allow you to send and receive calls, improve conference call functionality, and share media like images and video.

While traditional landline phones connected people via PRI phone lines, SIP allows for the PRI lines that make these work to be bypassed. This characteristic saves businesses money since the bills are much lower than traditional landline bills. It also is much more efficient because the connection is of a higher quality than PRI calls have.

SIP is also scalable, which is perfect for growing businesses. If you realize that you need more or fewer SIP channels during one month than you did during the last, you can just log in and make the change. This feature isn’t the case for landlines since you would need to add lines or uninstall the complete PRI system. 

What Are SIP Gateways?

On the other hand, a SIP gateway is helpful to build a bridge between the worlds of legacy telephony and the modern approach of SIP-enabled voice over IP (VoIP). Gateways are generally beneficial for connecting legacy phone systems (PBXs or ACDs) with SIP resources or connecting modern VoIP phone systems with legacy phone lines.

Adding SIP to a legacy PBX system is a great way to add features and reduce costs. The gateway connects to the legacy system through either analog or digital trunk ports. The PBX sees the gateway as either the phone line or as another networked PBX. Calls from the PBX to the rest of the world are converted into SIP calls and sent over the Internet to a SIP service provider or other VoIP peers. Calls coming from VoIP sources are converted into the appropriate legacy protocol and delivered to the PBX.

Gateways can extend the life of legacy equipment by “IP enabling” it. This advantage can include replacing traditional trunk lines with SIP trunks or routing some subset of traffic over VoIP to a remote PBX or gateway, a process known as toll bypass.

Gateways give companies more flexibility. For example, a company can stage the migration using the gateway to bridge the two systems rather than move from a traditional PBX to an IP PBX with SIP trunking in one giant leap.

Benefits of SIP Gateways

Now that we know the basics of a SIP gateway, let’s explore the benefits:

  • Fantastic Call Quality: One of the top benefits of SIP trunking is that it offers impressive call quality. Many people are reluctant to switch from traditional phone services because they fear poor call quality. Luckily, SIP trunking can offer crisp, clear voice calls by providing users with enough bandwidth to conduct all calls concurrently efficiently. 
  • Global Scalability/Mobility: Another significant benefit of SIP trunking is that it supports global scalability. On the one hand, traditional phone lines limit how fast you can expand and where you can expand. On the other hand, SIP trunking uses your internet connection, which makes it possible to scale as far and wide as your business demands. 
  • ROI: Many businesses that use SIP trunking rave about how quickly they receive an ROI. There are no significant upfront costs for investing in SIP trunking, but companies reap the benefits of a smaller bill and more reliable service instantly. 
  • Ability to Consolidate All Communication Systems: SIP trunking also allows companies to establish their own IP-based networks, which can then serve as a foundation for all communications systems. 
  • Ease of Use: SIP gateways are also easy to use and manage. This “plus” means IT teams don’t have to wait on hold for hours just to get a response. Instead, SIP comes complete with simple administrative portals that make it possible for an administrator to manage virtually all aspects of the trunking system on the site. 
  • Get Rid of Physical Infrastructure: When dealing with a traditional phone system, expanding your company’s infrastructure can be challenging. When you are ready to upgrade, you are often forced to wait for days or weeks before the phone company can install the new lines and equipment. This feature can be highly inconvenient for any business that needs to scale immediately. However, by investing in Sip trunking services, you can eliminate the physical infrastructure altogether. 

Gateways and Add-Ons

When it comes to SIP trunking, there are also a lot of add-ons that you may want to consider. These technologies include call forwarding, caller ID, fax to email services, business SMS, and more. If you need to send and share media with your endpoint, you need a provider that allows you to have the add-ons that matter to you.

That’s why you should select a provider that will allow you to continue using gateways in conjunction with the many add-ons that SIP trunks will enable you to install.

You can easily install these add-ons and initialize them with your SIP gateway if you have selected an appropriate provider. The data that these add-ons provide will move through the cloud just as the voice data of phone calls do.

Additional Tips for Using a SIP Gateway

Although SIP gateways are highly safe and secure, businesses still need to do their best to ensure their systems are as safe as possible. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Protecting a SIP Call

Despite the fact that SIP gateways offer some level of protection, it is not foolproof. However, there are ways to protect a SIP call. You can create an encrypted call. To do so, you simply need to add SIPS rather than SIP at the start of the call. This way, you ensure that the connection is encrypted and, thus, much safer for all. 

Additionally, administrators should also be aware of the fact that it’s possible to encrypt the content being sent and received via the SIP connection. This serves as an added layer of protection so, even if someone does manage to breach the connection, they will likely still not be able to understand the messages being sent. A straightforward method of doing so is by running the call through a VPN connection. Nevertheless, using a VPN could negatively impact your voice call quality. Therefore, you should be sure to test the VPN before using it for business calls. 

Preventing Malware Attacks

On another note, malware attacks are prevalent in virtually every sector. Therefore, finding the best ways to combat malware attacks is always essential. Unfortunately, when it comes to SIPs, many people fail to realize that malware can be ushered into the system via message in the same way it happens on PCs and other mobile devices. 

For instance, it is possible to send malware attacks that target the phone lines specifically. This can then be used as a way to gather and transmit vital information to other parties. Alternatively, this can also be a way to interfere with the functionality of the phone lines or totally dismantle them, or these attacks can even find their way to computers and other devices. 

However, taking steps to configure your endpoint devices can be a great way to prevent these attacks. In doing so, you can ensure that all devices require SIP authentication. 

Either way, your system should be set up so that it requires:

  • Usernames to be authenticated
  • A valid Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)
  • A secured password

Companies should also be sure to require strong passwords for all SIP devices and take the time to ensure that your prevention and intrusion protection systems are acclimated to your VoIP/SIP networks. 

Setting Up a Virtual LAN

Lastly, when dealing with calls from inside the company, you can set up a virtual LAN for your VoIP, remote office, or VPN. These can be used to provide companies with a separate network for voice traffic, which can also help boost security. The best way to go about this is by getting a SIP-capable firewall capable of blocking non-SIP traffic, examining the contents of messages for malware, and guarding against the various spoofing methods. 

Switch to SIP Today

Now that you know all about SIP gateways, it’s time to consider installing SIP trunks. No matter how great your phone system may be, you will not reap the benefits mentioned above without a SIP gateway. Ready to get started? Click here to create your free SIP trunking account in less than one minute so that you can begin chatting with professionals who will help you improve productivity.

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