Just when you thought there were no remaining possible letter combinations to create another telephony acronym, we’d like to introduce you to BYOC. It stands for Bring Your Own Carrier, and despite the crowded space of telecom terms, it’s a useful approach to cloud communications, so it’s worth learning more about it.
The Move to the Cloud
These days we don’t have to spend a lot of time convincing folks that the future of business communications is in the cloud. Nemertes research found that about 40% of organizations are using or planning to use cloud telephony services, and 61% are switching to VoIP phone systems when their current contract expires.
There are many ways to make the switch from traditional landlines to the cloud. You can SIP enable an existing IP PBX, choose a packaged UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) system, or opt for a cloud PBX. The best solution for your business depends on your resources and business model.
BYOC is another approach that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. To explain what it is, we need to unpack the telephony technology stack a bit.
It All Starts with SIP
The good old-fashioned physical telephone system consisting of copper lines is on life support. It’s expensive to maintain, difficult to grow, and no longer necessary, so carriers all over the world are abandoning it in favor of SIP trunks that allow calls to be delivered over the internet. This approach provides more flexibility, reduced costs, and global coverage.
The Next Levels of the Stack
You can think of cloud-communications like any other technology stack. One layer sits on top of another until you get a solution that meets the need. In the case of internet telephony, SIP (or the PSTN) is the first layer of the stack. SIP Trunks and the PSTN connect a call from point A to point B. That’s the base layer.
In order to add features that allow you to direct calls within the organization, you need another layer of logic. In the old model, this logic resides in the PBX system (private branch exchange) sitting in the closet of a business. In the modern model, this technology often lives in the cloud and is sometimes hosted by a third party.
On top of the underlying platform for directing calls sits the communications platform, which offers features like contact center capabilities, voicemail, conferencing, hold music, and all the other features you typically associate with a business phone system and some cool new ones like video and SMS.
The All-in-one Approach
Over the last fifteen years, there has been an explosion in services that offer an all-in-one cloud communications platform that addresses both the connectivity that SIP trunking provides and the PBX features businesses needs. These are called CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) or UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service). The CPaaS market projected to increase in value from $2 billion in 2017 to $10.9 billion in 2022.
Most providers of these services have either built their own PBX functionality or are licensing the core software. They then get voice coverage from many SIP trunk providers to cover all of their markets. They then bundle the SIP infrastructure cost in with the cost of their service. RingCentral, 8×8, Microsoft Teams, and Twilio are all examples of this model.
Its advantage is simplicity; businesses trust the provider to deal with the underlying technology. But as the dust has started to settle, the downsides to the bundled approach have begun to emerge. This is particularly true when businesses start to scale.
Increased Costs – While your results may vary, research indicates that operational costs may be higher when you use a bundled solution with a CPaaS orUCaaS provider.
Unpredictable Quality – Most of these bundled cloud communications vendors don’t own the SIP trunk technology. What they do is aggregate coverage and phone numbers from a bunch of SIP trunk providers. This means that the quality and features available (like HD Voice and video) will vary across markets and may change as the vendor’s relationships with its partners change.
Regulatory Issues – We won’t bore you with the details, but regulations on telephony providers are incredibly complicated, and compliance is difficult. UCaaS and CPaaS providers may lose as much as 30% of their coverage each year due to compliance issues. For customers, that can mean dropped calls and phone numbers that just don’t work. It’s almost always temporary, but it’s terrible, nonetheless.
Lack of Control – When you opt for a bundled infrastructure, you give up control over call routing. There are security, privacy, and quality implications to this decision.
The Unbundled Alternative Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC)
Because of these concerns, customers have started to call on their favorite UCaaS and CPaaS platforms to unbundle and allow them the option to choose their own SIP trunk provider. Clients want the best carrier for their situation and the best communications platform. Breaking the bundle allows for the best of both worlds.
If folks want to choose one from column A and one from column B, why not? Businesses love it because they get to:
- Keep control of call routing
- Extend coverage to more markets
- Potentially save money
- Avoid service interruptions due to compliance issues
- Assure acceptable quality
- Keep existing phone numbers
- Choose whether to use one provider globally or break up markets
Finding the Right SIP Trunk Provider
The whole point of BYOC is giving yourself the ability to select your own SIP trunk provider. Therefore it makes sense to pick one that can meet your immediate and long term needs. Look for providers that offer:
Tier-1 Infrastructure – This is the key to reliability and resiliency because Tier-1 networks connect to the backbone of the internet itself.
On-Demand Provisioning of Channels – It should be easy to add SIP channels whenever you need more.
Toll-Fraud Protection – Toll-fraud is a genuine and growing threat. Your SIP provider should have detection in place to alert you to any suspicious activity.
Expert Support – With a good administration tool, it should be easy to manage your own SIP trunks, but when you need help, you’ll want to be sure your provider has experts on staff to assist.
Not every organization will choose the BYOC route, but those that do will enjoy the highest level of flexibility and control. As business communications become ever more sophisticated, the trend is likely to accelerate.