With everyone on the move or currently, at home during the pandemic, connectivity has never been more important, Seamless communication between different business elements and in a variety of locations can often spell out the difference between success and failure for many organisations.
The challenge for modern businesses is integrating all the different types of communications. At the heart of this is the telephone, still the foundation tool of many companies. Speaking to someone is more instantaneous and often more effective than anything else; the proliferation of video conferencing tools like Zoom during the pandemic speaks for itself.
The unique requirements of a business telephone system
Landlines are a thing of the past for most householders but they still feature in the business arena and have several unique features:-
- Different extension numbers for specific staff members
- The capacity to hold and transfer callers
- A recording feature in order to evaluate calls for regulatory or staff training requirements
- Queuing and hold facilities
- Hold music, advertising for queuing callers or informational messages which can be used to reduce phone traffic
Traditionally, a company phone system has been provided by the public telephone network or PSTN which stands for the Public Switched Telephone Network. Using a private branch exchange (PBX), the organisation’s telephones are linked to the PSTN using standard telephone cables. Commonly, this is often referred to as the ISDN network or Integrated Services Digital Network which brings together all types of telephony services and data transmission via the PSTN.
ISDN will cease in 2025 and the way forward will be internet calls using fibre connections so the future is looking entirely digital. Businesses need to prepare for this and one way of doing this is to implement SIP trunks. This is a facility to make and receive calls over the internet.
What is SIP?
SIP is shorthand for Session Initiation Protocol. Rather than making a standard phone call using a traditional analogue phone line, the call is made or received via an internet connection. This is often referred to as Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP.
Just as you manage emails, documents and images via a laptop or tablet, now phone calls can also route via your device. All communications are unified over one network which handles texts, emails, video conferencing and messenger.
How does a voice call work on SIP?
The speaker’s voice is converted into data and the recipient’s device decodes it and translates it back to voice so two or more people can speak to one another just as you would via a conventional analogue telephone system.
Some businesses will install a SIP trunk which is a modern version of traditional phone line trunks, the name for the collection of cables linking telephone exchanges. These are virtual phone lines installed via the internet linking the PBX to the standard phone network.
The advantages of SIP
Many businesses and organisations are already choosing SIP because of the advantages it offers; SIP is compatible with other telephony so integration with existing systems is smooth and seamless with no disruption to service delivery.
Many small businesses wrongly assume that SIP is only for larger organisations but this is not the case and SIP can offer significant cost savings as well as improved connections and connectivity.
Some of the benefits of SIP include:-
- Money-saving – SIP trunks are cheaper than the comparable ISDN as IP connections tend to be much more economic when it comes to calling costs particularly if the company makes a lot of outbound calls
- Scalability – it’s easy to add more lines to a growing organisation where there is need or equally, remove capacity if it is not needed – this saves paying for redundant phone lines
- Flexibility – SIP allows any worker to take their phone number with them to any other office location or work from home, in the UK or abroad. This seamless service is essential for good business connectivity between suppliers, other staff and customers
- Back up – SIP allows call diversion to a different system if disaster strikes and the phones go offline so the business can continue without interruption
Ahead of the phasing out of PSTN and the PBX connection, many businesses and organisations are opting for SIP willing converts because of the huge advantages it can offer.
There are lots of SIP providers in the marketplace such as all the main mobile providers. SIP is flexible and offers a tailored solution for businesses and organisations large and small but thorough research and understanding of the potential of SIP are essential before choosing a provider.
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