Do you ever get that feeling that you are one acronym away from losing it when trying to navigate IP telephony? Well, let’s just confirm the obvious – you are not alone!
We do, however, recommend that you befriend terms like SIP and VoIP as soon as possible, as these are the backbone of IP telephony. The quicker you get on board with their purpose, the closer you are to plunging into the world of future-proof business communications. This article is a great place to start.
What Is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP for short, is the term used to describe the whole family of technologies involved in placing and receiving calls over the internet. It uses digital signals for sending and receiving voice messages in the form of encoded data packets across the network. These get decoded and put in the correct order on the receiver end to derive their meaning.
Today, internet telephony is the go-to option amongst the vast majority of business owners. Companies are eager to make the most out of internet-based telephony and avoid hefty telco bills while improving their flexibility and scalability.
What is SIP?
Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP for short, is text based protocol that resembles HTML. Its main function is to initiate communication sessions between two or more endpoints. This can include different communication types including voice, video, chat, as well as media and files distribution.
This protocol is also utilized for trunking. SIP trunks can replace traditional PSTN T1 lines to make and receive calls over IP with a typical phone number we are used to. It can also hold multiple simultaneous calls at the same time, therefore you only need one SIP trunk to accommodate many concurrent conversations.
Difference between SIP and VoIP
Oftentimes, we hear the question – ‘Which one is better: SIP or VoIP?’ Let’s start by saying these aren’t mutually exclusive, that’s why it’s not entirely correct to put one against the other. While the umbrella term VoIP describes the type of communication system you are using (think PSTN, POTS, etc.), SIP defines the script of how this technology is deployed and activated.
The main purpose of SIP is to establish, maintain and terminate upon request calls conducted over the internet. The question here is always whether or not you wish to use it for your system and never about replacing VoIP entirely.
By implementing SIP, users gain an outstanding advantage of having a direct connection between private and public telecommunication. Using SIP trunks, the protocol is also capable of navigating hybrid connections. This means that you can still conduct the calls whether the caller on the other line is also using VoIP or PSTN. As a result, the need for a traditional telephone line can be scrapped entirely.
Is SIP Essential for VoIP?
The short answer is no. Even though it’s one of the most popular protocols, VoIP installations don’t require SIP and can be implemented as a standalone. However your options will be, to say the least, limited.
SIP’s purpose is to bring out the colors from an otherwise plain VoIP system, with advantages such as:
VoIP is often praised for flexibility and there’s a reason for that. Unlike PSTN, you do not only have a simple phone line for your customers to reach you, but also an ever expanding list of add-ons. SIP can be used for this purpose. For instance, now you can enjoy features such as:
- Call routing
You can now attend to the enquiries and questions in a much more creative way, while the call flow is more systematic and organized. This has the potential to reshape your business communication and re-envision your customer service as a whole.
Users also incorporate SIP with a purpose of enabling quick scalability. As mentioned earlier, SIP trunk can accommodate multiple channels at the same time, i.e. many concurrent calls with clients. The company can easily address seasonal fluctuations without the need to add hardware and waste more time to arrange a new setup.
VoIP is notorious for its overall reduction of company’s communication costs. It requires little to no additional hardware, it’s easier to maintain and thanks to the new providers on the block – it even requires very little management. However, SIP can further multiply your savings by severely slashing, if not completely eliminating PSTN bills for good.
How Does It Work?
To activate this protocol, there are two essential pieces of equipment: proxy servers and SIP phones.
- Proxy servers are involved in routing, authentication and authorization of user requests. You can either deploy it within your own network, or alternatively opt for a third-party provider to host it for you. Usually this comes as part of the package with your VoIP provider.
- SIP phones (also known as VoIP phones) are designed specifically to engage with web, email, chat and others to equip telephony with a new set of features. These are not necessarily the typical-looking hardware devices we are used to. Majority of users actually prefer the software version called softphones that you can take anywhere with you. For this purpose, many providers have developed their own Android and iOS mobile apps.
To Wrap Up
SIP may be an option, but for the majority of businesses today – it’s actually a requirement. Transition to IP telephony shouldn’t be about signing up for a mere replacement of what is known, especially not when there is such a wide variety of new features available. While there’s no such thing as one size fits all, SIP is likely to make an important addition to your internet telephony.