SIP Trunking: The Next Network Protocol

SIP trunking is becoming a key enabler of network flexibility, especially as more business and carrier networks move from circuit- to packet-switched technology.

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“SIP trunking is part of the fundamental transition of networks from circuit-switched technology to packet technology.” This observation from Art Schoeller, Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, is an essential point to consider for IT decision makers contemplating a move to SIP trunking (and those who are making a business case for SIP).

Schoeller spoke about this technology paradigm shift to expertIP following a live panel in Vancouver in April, where he and other network experts explored the benefits and challenges of SIP trunking implementation. “SIP trunking will be one of the most successful protocols and standards I will have seen in my lifetime,” he told expertIP. “Do not doubt for a moment that SIP will take over.”

Art Schoeller, Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, explains the network flexibility gained by SIP trunking and packet-switched technology. 

Packets Versus Circuits

So why is the industry moving from circuit- to packet-switched networks, and how will this benefit businesses and simplify IT operations? It largely comes down to the increased flexibility afforded by packet-switched networks, which break down messages – emails, data transfers, voice traffic – into small data packets, each marked with a destination address. As those packets travel along the packet-switched network, they seek out the most efficient route to their destination address, where they are reassembled back into their original sequence.

Voice traffic, however, has traditionally been forced to travel across circuit-switched networks (and PBXs) that require dedicated point-to-point connections, with the voice transmission passing through several switches during a call. While the voice transmission is in progress, the entire capacity of the circuit is dedicated to that call.

SIP trunking converges data and voice traffic onto a single packet-switched IP network which is then connected to the PSTN, giving IT managers the flexibility to allocate bandwidth to voice traffic as needed without slowing down other network functions or losing voice quality. That makes for more effective network management and lower network and long-distance costs.

“When we look at traditional circuit-switched technology we’re looking at putting in a certain number of trunks,” Schoeller explained. “We may not be using those trunks, depending on the profile of our traffic. For companies that have very seasonal traffic, with big spikes in January and February, those facilities can sit there idle for the rest of the year. You get a better utilization of facilities with SIP trunking, which is more flexible and is paid for by the session, as opposed to the fixed channel set-up.”

SIP Is the Future

As SIP trunking becomes more widely adopted across carrier and business networks, Schoeller said, businesses can expect to “consolidate networks, reduce costs and open up some new additional applications that can be done with a more flexible signaling protocol than we’ve had in the past.” For a start, customers should see a 20-30% savings on long-distance and carrier-access charges.

The business benefits are obvious. “If you’re not exploring SIP trunking,” Schoeller said, “you’re leaving money on the table.”

For the second part of our interview with Art Schoeller, go here. For the third part, go here

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