When we chat with our customers about their past experience with other SIP trunking providers, we often are reminded that there are big differences between all of the various options on the market. We hear stories of poor quality, bad customer service, and other things that make for a terrible user experience. High on the list of complaints is unwelcome surprises when it comes to pricing. SIP pricing can be a little tricky and it is easy for shady providers to gloss over the facts, so it pays to know exactly what to ask. Here are the most important questions to ask before signing up with any SIP trunking provider.
What area does your unlimited plan cover?
If you really want to eliminate long distance charges (and who doesn’t?) make sure you understand the geography of the unlimited plan. For example, SIP.US includes calls to the lower 48 states and most of Canada. If you make a lot of calls to places that aren’t covered, make sure to ask for the international rate card. There can be pretty wide gaps in international toll pricing, so if you make a lot of those calls, be sure to look for great rates to the places you call most.
How much will DID numbers cost?
If you need DID (direct inward dial) numbers, you will pay a setup and a monthly fee for each. This also includes toll-free and international DIDs. In our case, the fee is nominal, just $1.00 per month and $1.00 to set up each local DID.
What are the porting costs?
If you plan to retain your current phone numbers, you can expect a set-up fee. Most people don’t realize this, but porting numbers is fairly complicated for your new vendor. The process relies on the cooperation of the current provider, so be sure to ask your new one about the expected lead time.
How much do you charge for e911?
“Nomadic” e911 is an essential service that lets you define the address to be transmitted to the Public Safety Answering Point whenever you dial 911. This is how you can be sure that emergency responders can find you quickly. Most SIP trunking providers charge a small fee for this service.
What are the taxes and regulatory fees?
You know what they say about taxes and death. I’m afraid you aren’t getting away from taxes with SIP. There is something called the Federal Universal Service Fund (USF), it exists to ensure that high-quality, affordable communications service is available for people all across the country, especially in rural areas and low-income neighborhoods that might not be profitable for carriers to service. It also provides discounts for schools, libraries, and rural healthcare facilities. All telecommunication carriers, including SIP trunking providers, must pay into the fund. Almost all providers pass these fees along to customers.
What other fees can I expect to see on my initial and monthly bill?
We think we’ve covered the most common fees, but you don’t want any surprises, so it is wise to ask this final open-ended question.
If you’ve covered all of this with your vendor, you can be quite confident that your bill will align with your expectations and your relationship will be off to a good start. (You can find all of the details about our pricing here.)