Ditching the phone lines and choosing SIP trunking for your business is a smart move. You’ll save significant amounts of money, get more flexibility, and simplify network management. But it can be intimidating if you aren’t a seasoned telecommunications expert. You don’t want to make the wrong choice of vendor and risk a failed implementation or a poor voice experience. You don’t have to get a degree in digital networking in order to make a smart choice when it comes to SIP. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you choose wisely.
1 – Insist on a Tier-1 network
You don’t have to understand much about the backend network, but be sure to ask any vendor you consider about the tier level of their carriers. Some business SIP providers leverage tier-2 or tier-3 networks in order to offer an extremely low price. Don’t fall into this trap. Only tier-1 carriers are directly connected to the structure of the Internet and can be considered part of the Internet itself. They have the highest connection speeds and are the most reliable network. Voice communications are critical to your business and you don’t want to trust them to a lower tier network and risk poor audio quality, jitter, or loss of dial tone.
2 – Get Clear about Costs
There are a lot of components that can go into the price you will ultimately pay for your SIP service, so it is important that you have a full understanding of exactly what you will be paying. (Here’s a longer post about SIP pricing.) The short version is that you can expect to pay monthly and setup fees for each channel, fees for DID porting, e911 fees, and regulatory fees. If you make international calls or calls to places that are not included with an unlimited SIP trunk subscription, you should expect to pay a per minute fee for those calls as well. Run away from any vendor that isn’t clear and upfront with their pricing.
3 – Understand the Commitment
Some SIP vendors require an agreement that locks you in for a year or more. But you can find a provider who offers more flexible terms, letting you cancel at any time. While we prefer to earn your business each and every month, there’s nothing wrong with a commitment as long as you know what you are getting into.
4 – Bring Your Own Bandwidth
Some vendors require that you purchase internet bandwidth from them. That may be fine, but it may also prevent you from getting the best price and most reliable service available in your area. If you run into this and find that you can get a better fit for your business with bandwidth from a provider other than the SIP vendor, look for a solution that will work with any ISP you choose.
5 – Expect Great Service
Business SIP trunking providers offer varying levels of customer service. Some offer only email support. Some charge a separate fee for technical support either monthly or per incident. If you aren’t a telco expert, it is smart to choose a vendor who will help you get set up and answer questions for you in the future. We recommend calling the vendor’s customer service number to get a feel for the type and level of support they offer.
6 – Get a Free Trial
The most important recommendation we can offer, by far, is to test the SIP solution with your equipment and internet connection. This is the best way to ensure that the solution will work well for you. It doesn’t need to be a long test, but turn away any vendor who won’t provide this opportunity.
We’d love it if you give SIP.US a chance to fulfill your business communications needs, but even if you don’t, these guidelines can help make sure you get a solution that will be a success.