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Planning for a seamless transition to SIP

Posted on March 13, 2018

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With ISDN services being totally discontinued by 2022, companies who previously relied on the technology are under pressure to find a new alternative before the ageing service is retired. 

Luckily, there’s already a solution that’s not only cheaper than ISDN, but far superior. SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) is the future of business voice. It manages not only voice calls, but also multimedia communications such as video calls, instant messaging, media distribution, and more.

SIP offers massive benefits over ISDN, including reduced costs and increased productivity and flexibility. But like any major change, the move to SIP must be planned and managed carefully in order to avoid pitfalls and reap maximum benefits. Here’s how to plan for a seamless transition to SIP services:

1. Move early

Don’t wait until you’re forced to act. Moving early allows you more time to plan the critical migration of your business’s voice communications and to assess options like SIP providers and hardware considerations.

Take this opportunity to conduct a thorough review of your long-term telecommunications requirements and the technologies available.

2. Define your business needs

This should begin with a comprehensive audit of your current systems. Knowledge of exactly what you currently have—including their strengths and weaknesses—is a critical foundation on which to base your decisions moving forward.

Getting input from all stakeholders is an essential part of defining the requirements for any technology change.

Factors such as budgets, timelines, and the availability of resources must all be considered together with business requirements to determine your end goal and the path you take to reach it.

Considerations when moving to SIP will include factors such as whether to host your PBX in the cloud or at your premises, and the capacity of your internet connections.

High-speed fibre optic connections offer immense bandwidth while maintaining very low latency, making them ideal for voice traffic.

3. Choosing a provider

There is a plethora of providers in market, but not all are built for business. Before signing a contract, check a few things.  

  1. Track Record: Can your potential SIP provider provide case studies of successful implementations of a similar service for businesses of a comparable size?
  2. Security: Data security is always a key concern. Consider included levels of encryption, access control standards, and monitoring and reviewing of calls.
  3. Support: What commitments do potential providers offer? Do they have the resources and expertise to provide 24/7 support before, during, and after the sale? Can you manage your services by yourself, like through a portal?
  4. Quality of Service (QoS): Ask potential providers about their QoS capabilities. This is the ability to prioritise certain types of data traffic over others. Typically, it ensures voice traffic has the highest priority on the network, taking precedence over downloads.
  5. Pricing: Not surprisingly, price is a key consideration when choosing a SIP provider. Common SIP pricing models include port pricing and user-based pricing; which is best for you will depend on the needs of your organisation. Other considerations include included calls, and additional managed services. No matter the model, SIP provides far more cost-effective solutions than ISDN without compromising on quality.

4. Legacy systems and devices

Many businesses operate additional services and hardware over their ISDN connections including alarm systems, credit card machines and point of sale POS systems. Ensure you assess the impacts of your SIP implementation on these devices.

Phone handsets, cabling, and other hardware may need to be replaced or upgraded when migrating business premises from ISDN to SIP.

It may be feasible to retain parts of legacy systems by using a gateway to convert between ISDN and SIP, if you aren’t ready to replace all your existing infrastructure.

5. Manage potential risks

It’s important to conduct an analysis of potential service impacts that may occur during the implementation phase.

Long term, upgrading your business to SIP from ISDN is a huge step forward, but it may nonetheless introduce new alternatives to reduce business risk.

If your data connection goes down, utilising functions such as voice failover to a pre-configured alternate number when SIP registration fails due to something like a power failure, your customers will still get through. Other safeguards such as 4G mobile data failovers can also considerably reduce this risk.

Ensure you understand what redundancy options are available to you from your SIP service provider in the case of an outage so that you can minimise your impacts to your organisation.

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