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SIP Trunks to the SMB: Why Can't We Be Friends?

SIP trunks could be the small and medium-sized business's newest best friends because their cost benefits and the capabilities far outweigh those of traditional telecom services. Unfortunately, we've got a couple of barriers to knock down first.

On the upside the causes also are repetitive, making them easy to pinpoint.

Moving Targets
First and foremost is equipment certification. What a service provider certifies today may be irrelevant tomorrow with firmware updates or changes in provisioning of the SIP trunks. Keeping certifications in order can be troublesome, especially since documentation from equipment vendors as well servicer providers tends to be in scant supply.

Throw in an acquisition, and the platform undergoes another change that impacts existing installed base. As much as a company might tout seamless integration of the acquired assets, the reality is such change usually comes with a negative impact for some customers.

Another gotcha here is the promotion of proprietary development. This tends to be more of an issue with hosted PBX services when the provider doesn't own an element of software that provides a feature set.

Firewalls
In IP telephony, the local firewall is often the root cause of one-way audio, dropped calls, and incomplete calls. I am not trying to build a case for firewalls in the cloud; I don't need to because they are coming regardless, in the form of software-defined networking and network functions virtualization, as I've previously written.

When configuring a SIP trunk, you first must figure out whether the voice service will get a dedicated public IP at the customer end or whether it will it be dynamic -- and this is where the fun begins. Questions you'll need to ask are: Does the premises firewall have enough processing power to handle the necessary bandwidth and simultaneous traffic added while all the security services are activated? And, how simple or complex will the firewall rules be?

Infrastructure
For SMBs , the challenges include cost, service availability, and bandwidth. When SMBs fail to recognize that their infrastructure is vital to their success in deploying and maintaining SIP trunks or hosted PBXes, then their efforts to reduce costs are in vain. Some businesses will flip-flop and go back to an IP-PBX on premises, and some will continue to move around between providers until they feel less pain. In either case, they end up chasing their own tails.

The old TDM POTS lines were powered from the central office. When migrating to hosted PBX services or SIP trunking, many SMBs still often fail to realize that they need adequate back-up power for their gear and that local power responsibility is now on them, not the provider.If your power isn't clean, uninterrupted, and near picture perfect, then you will be engaged with new problems that promise to reduce your uptime and requirements for high availability.

The availability of adequate bandwidth is still an issue, and not all businesses have access that is conducive to changing over to an IP solution. Ask yourself: Are you really successful using DSL? Can you now provision SIP trunks?

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