The SIP Trunking Alternative

The need to keep telephony costs down is present on the minds of CFOs and managers everywhere, and fortunately, innovations like VoIP have made it possible to do so. But there are a lot of questions involved, and the best process is not always evident. One of the most important, but perhaps most confusing issues is whether to use SIP trunking of PRIs.

What is PRI and SIP?

PRI (Primary Rate Interface) is a way of dividing a T1 line into 23 distinct channels for the purpose of telephony. Each channel can carry a single telephone call, although the number of channels or PRIs required is not a direct correlation. It is instead based on simultaneous calling. If for example, you have 30 employees but estimate that at peak time only about 50 percent are on the phone at any given time, then you are using only 15 channels, and a single PRI would be adequate. On the downside, when you do need to upgrade, you need to purchase an entire PRI for another 23 channels, which may lead to unused capacity.

SIP (session initiation protocol) also is based on a T1 line, but does not require division into channels. As a result, SIP trunks do not require you to purchase an entire PRI of 23 channels when you need to upgrade. Scalability for SIP trunks can be accomplished on a smaller scale, so unused capacity is kept to a minimum and costs can be kept down.

A Comparison

Some businesses, especially larger ones, have not made the move to SIP trunks because the scalability issue of an incremental upgrade of 23 channels at a time is not as significant, especially for a business with thousands of lines. The other reason is that the PRI is often perceived as still offering superior call quality, although this distinction is disappearing. PRI was also preferred because of the advantage of having Direct Inward Dial (DID) numbers, which makes call routing within the company easier. However, Sip trunks now can offer all of the same features as the PRI option.

The cost advantage weighs strongly in favor of session initiation protocol, however. Smaller businesses especially enjoy a major cost advantage, since the scalability issue is much more significant. Another advantage of SIP trunks that may be more relevant to larger companies is the fact that there is no physical installation involved. While PRI requires a physical installation of a T1 copper pair, SIP trunks are deployed virtually.

Find Out More

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