Making Progress on SIP Trunking?
The second-tier carriers are thriving, but getting SIP Trunks from the big guys may still be a challenge.
We've been talking seriously and intensively about SIP Trunking for at least five years now, and it still hasn't reached that point that every successful technology achieves, where you stop talking about it because it's so commonplace and well understood that no one needs to give it a lot of thought--you just do it. Still, we're seeing some signs of progress, albeit with some mixed signals as well.
First the mixed signals: At Enterprise Connect Orlando 2013, I talked to a few consultants and even some vendor folks who said that, in their experience, SIP Trunking was falling off some enterprise managers' radar screens, because the carriers, at least in certain regions, were cutting their PRI prices, hoping to squeeze a few more years out of this legacy asset. To the extent that this sort of price cutting eats away at SIP Trunking's cost advantage, the motivation to migrate is considerably reduced.
There are other signs that the incumbent carriers continue to be reluctant to cannibalize their PRI revenue streams by offering SIP Trunks more aggressively. At the UC Summit, where I've spent this week, Todd Abbott of Sonus told the audience that in a carrier he identified only as "a Tier 1 carrier," it requires approval from a senior VP for a salesperson to sell a SIP trunk deal. Todd also said that Sonus estimates SIP Trunks' market penetration as 12% in the U.S.
However, Todd also maintained that the Tier 2 and below carriers are making a strong play in SIP Trunking, a contention that was echoed by one of our resident experts on telecom procurement, Hank Levine of LB3 Law firm. In this No Jitter post, Hank wrote that, "SIP trunking has become off-the-shelf."
Hank writes that the competitors to AT&T and Verizon continue gaining in strength and viability as an alternative. "The 'second tier' of network service providers--Level 3, XO, CenturyLink, TW Telecom--are now multi-billion-dollar companies, and stronger in IP-based services like SIP than TDM, which augurs well for their futures," he wrote.
Many of the best early case studies we have for SIP Trunk installations have been with customers of these "second tier" providers. As these competitive carriers become a real threat to the incumbent duopoly across the U.S., enterprises have more choice and a more credible threat of changing providers, to use as negotiating leverage. And hopefully the success of the alternate providers may pressure the incumbents to, as James Brown would say, get on the good foot when it comes to offering SIP Trunking as a viable choice.
But one thing we've learned is that finding a carrier to offer you SIP Trunking is just the first step; the implementations and the way that offers are constructed continue to vary widely according to the situation of both the carrier and the enterprise. How you consume SIP services will determine how you implement SIP Trunks; and the IP communications environment you have in place now, and what's on your road map, will be what puts in place the gotchas and challenges you'll confront as you cut over.
That's why we're once again taking Enterprise Connect on the road, with a four-city tour of one-day conferences devoted entirely to SIP Trunking. We're working with Dave Stein of Stein Technology Group and Jim Allen, an independent consultant with vast enterprise experience, to present a program of content that will help you navigate the challenges of SIP Trunking. Dave and Jim teamed up to deliver our SIP Trunking implementation tutorial at Enterprise Connect Orlando in March, and they'll be offering a scaled-down version of that crash course as the opening session at each of our Road Show stops. We'll also have sessions exploring architectural choices around SIP Trunking, as well as longer-term trends in end-to-end IP WANs, concluding our day with a customer case study panel in each city.
The Tour debuts next week, on May 8 in Las Vegas, co-located with our sister event Interop. We'll move on to New York City on May 14; San Francisco on June 19; bringing it all home with a stop in Chicago on June 26. You can get more information and sign up at http://enterpriseconnect.com/tour/.
We're hoping to see you at one of these dates, to continue the conversation on SIP Trunking.