How to Select a SIP Trunking Provider
SIP trunks are like opinions; everybody’s got one.
That statement may be a bit of an exaggeration but it’s true that there are a lot of SIP trunking provider options. Everytime you open a new browser it seems some new provider is advertising their wares on the internet.
Major telecommunication companies offer them, your broadband internet and cable company probably has a business bundle, VoIP hardware manufacturers are getting into the Cloud game and offering their own plans, and of course there are standalone SIP trunk companies who offer nothing but the service.
With so many avenues to explore for your SIP trunking needs, where does one start?
Free Trial and Compatibility
Free trials are always a good place to start.
Even if you don’t know if a particular provider’s service is compatible with your PBX, you’ll soon find out.
Of course there are other benefits to a free trial such as determining whether or not certain features are actually useful to your application, ease of setup and use, and the dependability of the provider’s support team.
It is very important however to know if a SIP trunk is compatible with your system whether you’re using a legacy PBX, open source platform, software-based PBX, or an IP PBX.
Coverage Area, Tier 1 Service, and Quality of Service
Is your company hyperlocal making only regional calls or do you consider the entire globe your backyard?
Whatever your calling needs are, make your sure you SIP trunking provider is able to offer service to the geographic area you need access to.
Providers that use a Tier 1 network can offer the highest voice call quality because they essentially run and own their own network. SIP trunks from resellers are rebranded or white-labeled services from other providers. If you use a SIP trunk from a reseller you are paying a toll to use someone elses network so your call isn’t being given the same priority as it would on a Tier 1 network and the quality might not be as good.
Also worth noting is that some carriers are considered Tier 1 for a particular region only and outside of that they’ll be paying tolls to carry your call to another region or country. This means increased costs for you.
If international calls are crucial to your business then, choose a SIP trunk provider accordingly.
One last word on quality – Quality of Service (QoS). If your SIP trunk provider of choice meets industry standards of jitter, latency, and packet loss then you’ll be in good hands.
As always, you get what you pay for. Business class or enterprise level services will cost more than the service that’s appropriate for home offices or SMB’s. It all depends on what your application needs and values.
Bundles, Billing, Bursting
There are several different ways that SIP trunking providers bill you for their services including:
- Cost per minute
- Cost per user
- Cost per port
- Number of simultaneous calls
- Bundled services and features
- and so on…
Your Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the SIP trunk provider will formally define the scope, expectations, and terms. You can refer back to the document should you have any issues or questions.
Even though it may seem that the number of different billing options available and SLA should cover all variables, there is something that’s a bit of a wildcard when it comes to SIP trunking: Bursting.
Bursting is what’s known as going over your calling limit on a SIP trunk. You’ll often see this term compared to overdraft protection on your checking account. You can temporarily get more calls than what you paid for during, say, a busy time of year or when you’ve decided to run a special promotion that becomes very popular.
You may not need this level of service all year round but, it’s there when you need it; that’s bursting. Not all SIP trunk providers offer this so if it is something that you might need, seek one out that does.
So, How Do I Really Select a SIP Trunking Provider?
You should select the SIP trunking provider based on your needs. If it hasn’t already been made clear, there are a lot of options to choose from so don’t sign on with a provider that’s pressuring into things that you don’t want such as:
- A long-term contract
- Paying for more than you need
- Bundled services that help their bottom line, not yours
- The inability to port your existing phone numbers to your new SIP trunk
With SIP trunks you’re making phone calls over the internet and we all know how awesome the internet can be so you should expect great features, transparency of call quality metrics, and call reporting and analytics.
Don’t settle for a SIP trunk provider that’s not right for you. If you need a specific set of features, chances are it’s out there, you just need to paired with the right partner.