There’s little doubt that government agencies are under more pressure to deliver than ever. Faced with ever-shrinking budgets, increasing public demand and spiraling targets aimed at boosting the welfare of those they deal with, it’s a hard position to be in. The focus is always on doing more for less – with no compromise in standards.
That’s why smart solutions are needed in order to reduce common inefficiencies and identify low-hanging fruit to create savings. And if that solution also offers better service to members of the public, and happier employees, it really becomes an essential – which is where SIP trunking comes in.
What Is SIP Trunking?
SIP stands for ‘Session Initiation Protocol’, and it’s a term used to refer to the technology which allows telephone calls over the internet. These are often referred to as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls.
It provides a real-time audio or visual connection between two points. SIP technology allows these sessions to be created between two or more parties in a network – so two-way calling or a conference call. When you think about old-fashioned analogue phones, you had a dedicated telephone line.
SIP Trunking is the digital version of that old analogue phone line. It allows you to make local, national and international calls very simply over the internet, rather than maintaining a separate telephone line. You can also have any number of calls running concurrently through one single system.
What Is A SIP Service Provider?
In the old model, you would have a telephone company providing your service to make and receive telephone calls on an analogue line. Following the new model of VoIP calling, your SIP service provider allows you to connect your in-house system to the world outside.
Without SIP trunking, your devices would only be able to talk to other devices within the same network. What’s needed is a SIP service provider to give what is known as a ‘trunk’, that connects your internal network to the wider branches out in the digital ether.
This quick, cost-effective and efficient service allows you to get up and running quickly. You can replace old, slow telephony systems with modern, efficient, internet-based calling where all your systems are connected and you aren’t held back by limited capacity. To ensure a seamless transition and excellent service, you should choose a sip trunk provider that fits all your needs.
How Much Do SIP Trunks Cost?
The good news is that SIP trunking provides an easily scalable communications model for government agencies. The cost can easily be adjusted to match the current demands and needs that you have, but typical monthly costs range from $25 – $50 per trunk that you require setting up.
Sometimes a small set up fee is involved initially, but over the longer term, this solution is much more cost-effective than traditional telephone service providers. SIP Trunking is able to give you access to plans that include unlimited inbound and outbound calling.
This is a flat fee that makes planning budgets and managing finances much easier, as you pay per channel rather than per call or minutes used.
This fee is the same for local or for long-distance calls. You can easily add additional channels into your package at any time without a lengthy upgrade process to deal with. So a SIP trunking service has the advantage of allowing government agencies to easily budget their telecoms spending.
How Many Calls Can A SIP Trunk Handle?
Being so easily scalable is another feature that businesses and public organizations love about using SIP trunking to handle their telecoms requirements. The limitation that you have comes from your Internet bandwidth capacity. A call will typically use around 80-100 kilobytes per second of bandwidth.
Therefore, the upload speed on your internet connection is the value that defines how many calls your connection will support at the same time. To work this out, first determine how many concurrent calls your agency takes during peak times.
Then, multiply this value by how many kbps your internet bandwidth supports. This will let you know the bandwidth (in mbps) you require for effective SIP trunking.
For example, if your current upload speed runs at 6Mbps, then the maximum amount of concurrent calls you’d be able to support would be 60.
SIP Trunking To Drive Efficiency
Efficiency is a key value within government agencies, because of the accountability around spending public money it has. Agencies which get the balance right allow their employees to feel more purpose-driven and happier at work, as they get to concentrate on the right tasks rather than getting weighed down with administrative work.
When employees are allowed to focus on doing their jobs, they report higher levels of job satisfaction, and leave less often – which results in even more budget savings on recruitment and training of new staff. There is an interaction with the public, who quickly notice when processes do not work smoothly, or staff seem demoralized.
Similarly, when phone systems are bad, patients lose confidence in the whole of their experience. When government employees aren’t battling inefficient systems, they simply have more time to spend listening to members of the public, addressing their needs and providing the right service and assistance.
And with this increase in good feeling also comes another key factor – cost savings. Technology used to lower running costs means an increase in revenue along with staff morale.
Having efficient processes leads to lower recruitment and administration costs, easier achievement of service level targets and a healthier work-life balance for staff. So simply implementing the best technology solutions can help government agencies to function much better and save money in many different areas.
Why Is SIP Trunking So Important?
SIP Trunking offers a way to process telephone communications efficiently using a high-speed internet connection. When combined with supporting technology, government agencies can place outbound calls to any phone number and also receive incoming calls.
The system can be set up with varying numbers of channels, and these determine the number of calls that can be active at any one time – the more channels, the more calls can be placed. In addition to telephone capabilities, SIP trunking also offers high definition video.
During the recent global Covid-19 pandemic, this has become more important than ever, as it allows staff to see members of the public remotely, and provide service without coming into physical contact.
Even under normal circumstances, this can be extremely helpful to both busy customers and the smooth running of the agency, by effectively allowing the agency to streamline appointments and keep wasted time to a minimum. People now expect an online service as it becomes more standard in other sectors such as medicine.
The Benefits To Your Agency
The benefits of SIP trunking to government agencies of this type of system are numerous. As one system is capable of replacing all the physical telephone contracts in the building, there is an integrated user experience usually at a significantly lower cost.
SIP trunking systems can be found at a flat-rate monthly charge, no matter the call volume you process, meaning that that practice benefits from fixed overheads which are known – and you only buy the channels that you need, which ensures no wastage. In practice, this also presents a scalable solution which can grow as your needs do.
The flexibility of being able to easily scale up or down to meet demand is a huge benefit to an efficient business focused on reducing unnecessary costs. The single system approach also means that government agencies do not have to support separate internet and telephone providers, which again saves money, time and frustration in administration terms.
Increasingly, members of the public will demand the option of virtual appointments to fit into their lives. This on-demand culture has been seen in every other sector, and it’s increasingly coming into public service areas as well.
Not only will SIP trunking allow your business to offer this service and meet public demand, but this can also save further time and money on only offering in-person appointments. Freeing up the time of your staff to concentrate on their core responsibilities and even innovation, as well as giving them more job satisfaction.
To learn more about all the different ways SIP trunking can enhance your government operations, check out our blog here.
Safeguarding Members of The Public With SIP Calling
Call security is a huge issue within government agencies. When you’re dealing with sensitive, confidential information, communication becomes critical. And when you introduce SIP trunking, you can ensure both tighter security on calls and clearer, more confident voice and video conversations.
Maintaining confidentiality where needed and keeping data secure are at the heart of legislation around data handling. Installing this system gives you much greater control over your information security. Being able to safeguard your IP PBX along with the rest of your Information Services is a great asset.
You can use secure telephone passwords to keep system security rigourous and work from a dedicated VLAN to shield your communications further.
Making sure that there are adequate technical and administrative controls over your network through the safe use of SIP trunking keeps you both legally compliant and protects your reputation for handling confidential data with the utmost care.
Because the signalling and the media travel separately within the system you can even set things up so that the media (containing the more sensitive information) can bypass the carrier’s data center, minimizing the risk of calls falling into the wrong hands.