How to Explain the Difference Between a VOIP Server and SIP Trunking
Afraid of staggering your client with a cascade of acronyms?
It’s a real concern when 64 percent of small business owners feel overwhelmed by technology. But information technology doesn’t have to be complicated.
We’ve put together a few pointers for when you’re stuck trying to explain internet telephony and the wonders of VOIP servers to your clients.
What’s a protocol?
First off, you’ll need to explain what a protocol is.
This is one of those terms that everyone has heard a thousand times without really knowing what it means. So keep it simple.
Everything on the internet is data. A protocol is a way for two machines to talk to each other and understand each other’s data.
Voice communications are a special kind of data. In order for two machines to exchange voice data, the machines need to be speaking the same ‘language’.
That language is a protocol.
The protocol contains all the necessary information for the machines on each end (“endpoints”) to communicate.
What’s a VOIP server?
When it comes to explaining a VOIP server, start with the basics.
VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. VOIP is a form of internet telephony, so it can be contrasted with traditional PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network.
As we mentioned, a protocol is a way of exchanging information between computers. So VOIP exchanges voice information using internet protocol – which can be understood as the internet’s postal system.
VOIP is usually used along with an application such as Skype to facilitate communication between the endpoints.
At its heart, a VOIP server allows businesses to move from traditional phone line systems to a digital, online system. This uses a computer network instead of standard phone lines to deliver a telephony service.
So what’s a SIP?
SIP is another internet protocol, just like a VOIP server. It stands for Session Initiated Protocol.
In fact, SIP trunking is another way of achieving VOIP – you can think of SIP as another layer on top of VOIP.
The key difference with SIP is that has multimedia support. VOIP is only able to carry voice messages, whereas SIP can send and receive images and video as well.
Essentially, it’s the difference between a standard phone conversation and a video call.
SIP also transfers most of the processing side of things to an individual user’s system rather than a central VOIP server.
As a result of its decentralized nature, SIP can handle large amounts of data traffic without a performance impact.
So what’re the advantages of each?
With the two protocols defined, you’re ready to start exploring the advantages of each one.
Let’s take a look:
The key advantage of VOIP is its flexibility. It can be easily adapted to fit a range of scenarios, from redirecting calls to supporting decentralized home working.
A VOIP server doesn’t need much to set up, either. All your client needs is a network.
VOIP is a cost effective upgrade to standard telephony. The hardware involved isn’t as expensive as an old-fashioned telephone system in the long run, which can quickly balloon in cost when scaling up for a larger business.
Unlike analog phone systems, VOIP systems can give much better line quality. Old-school switchboards create losses in quality due to the copper cabling involved, whereas VOIP calls are rerouted directly through digital means, preventing degradation of its data.
But VOIP has its drawbacks.
For starters, if you’re working with outdated equipment, then you may need to upgrade to a newer phone system capable of handling VOIP. VOIP is also heavily dependent on internet speeds when it comes to quality.
If your business broadband isn’t up to scratch, you may find VOIP’s quality lacking.
SIP trunking is great for businesses looking to adapt on the fly. SIP can be tuned up for busy periods and down for quiet ones, which gives businesses a huge deal of control over how it’s deployed.
SIP solutions are also virtual, making them easy to manage and very scalable.
Traditional lines can also be consolidated using SIP trunks, which can save a huge amount in costs. Due to the internet-based nature of the connection, it also lends itself well to business continuity.
But much like standard VOIP systems, SIP trunking is very dependent on your business internet speeds.
You should also explain to your clients that SIP is actually just a method of achieving VOIP. So in this sense, there’s no ‘versus’ between the two.
But SIP gives more control over a VOIP system and allows for more advanced features such as phone conferencing.
What equipment do you need for VOIP and SIP?
At this point, your client is likely to be interested in what equipment is needed for VOIP and SIP.
The good news you can give them is that VOIP equipment is scalable. A business can invest as much or as little in VOIP as it chooses.
The actual range of hardware available is huge. But only a few elements are actually required for effective VOIP.
Other than an IP phone and a working internet connection, the only absolute necessity for VOIP is a service plan. These can be obtained from providers at a range of price points.
Why is it so simple? VOIP uses your existing connections. So long as an office has network infrastructure, it can make use of VOIP.
Obviously, if your client wants to make and receive video calls, they’ll need to invest in some additional hardware. In this case, they’ll need webcams to pick up video.
Businesses are also likely to want a few other pieces of equipment. Conference phones allow a new level of flexibility for meetings. Users may also wish to invest in headsets, particularly for call center environments.
This is a great chance to upsell other telecoms equipment and services for a business wanting to dip into advanced features.
Of course, any good explanation presents a chance to ask questions, so listen to your client and try to help them out. This is also a great chance to adapt your explanation for next time! Reselling SIP can be a rewarding experience, so always look for chances to up your game.