There is a lot of cool digital technology being used today in business communications. As users and lovers of this tech, the Sunco team wants to help shed light on concepts that form the foundation of many of our telecom solutions. Our last blog broke down the basics of VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol – the conversion of voice signals to data which is then transmitted via the Internet or private network.

So now we’ll go even further. How do your networked devices such as desk phones, cell phones or softphones find and communicate with each other to transmit this voice data?

Firstly, each device needs its own IP address so it can found on the network. The devices then need to “speak” to each other in the same language in order to perform basic functions like starting and ending calls, putting calls on hold and caller ID. This language is called SIP or Session Initiation Protocol.

To understand SIP, think about traveling to a foreign country where you don’t understand the language. It is critical that you know basic phrases such as “where is the bathroom?”  “how much is this?” or “please and thank you” in that particular language. VoIP devices also use common phrases and SIP provides the standardized language that both sides understand in order to perform simple tasks or on a higher scale, operate more advanced applications.

We can take this analogy even further. Just as the English language can have different dialects, so can SIP. Manufacturers can create their own proprietary language, or flavour of SIP, that only their products can understand. Industry-leader Mitel for example calls its language MiNet, which allows its desk phones and other VoIP devices to communicate with each other at a higher level and push more advanced features like self-labelling keys and remote diagnostic tools.

MiNet also offers the heartbeat feature. All of the devices on MiNet continually send out a “are you there?” message to the system’s controller to ensure the Internet service is active. If the controller doesn’t respond with “I am here!”, the desk phone will seamlessly connect itself to a backup service to ensure the phones don’t go down. MiNet is like having a “big brother” watching your VoIP communication system 24/7 to ensure it’s working at maximum capacity.

 I understand that SIP is a language, but what are SIP trunks?

A SIP trunk is basically a “virtual” phone line that delivers voice data over the Internet or private network instead of voice signals over traditional copper analog lines. SIP trunks offer greater capacity, flexibility, cost-savings and provide better fail-over options.

Are SIP trunks right for my business?

Yes, but only if your Internet connection is fast and reliable. Since voice traffic will be moving through the Internet connection, inconsistent speeds and quality issues may result in echo, dropped calls or one-way audio. Review our Fibre is the Future blog for more information regarding the right Internet connection for your business.

Are SIP Trunks less expensive than analog lines?

Definitely. With analog lines you pay for the number of direct lines coming into the business. If you have five staff with five direct lines, you pay for all five. With SIP trunks, you only pay for one connection and can have multiple direct lines. That equals convenience and cost savings!

Are SIP trunks the way to go when I want to have a virtual presence in other cities?

Yes! This is the beauty of SIP trunks. If you have a business in Edmonton, for example, but want to have “virtual” office in other city, you can order a phone number (DID or Direct Inward Dial) in that region, but have it ring your Edmonton location. No more call forwarding analog lines from other cities – which translates into big savings. Pay as little as $3 per phone number per month!

It is interesting to note that some business owners reject the idea of using SIP trunks and want to stick to “tried and true” analog lines. In reality though, SIP is being used most of the time – even with analog lines. Telco providers use SIP to convert analog signals to data for ease and speed of transmission before converting the signals back to analog and delivering it to the business.  Business communication is going digital and it’s almost impossible to make any phone call without your device communicating with the language of SIP!

As your full-service telecom provider, Sunco offers SIP trunks from a variety of providers in addition to the full line of Mitel’s new 6900 series of phones. We’d love to help you find the best solution for your needs and budget. Arrange a free demonstration today!

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