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VoIP/SIP 800 Trunking: Is the Industry Ready?

SIP has the potential in an enterprise to virtualize all contact centers into one logical environment. Most large enterprises have various products, divisions, and contact centers that are not integrated. When a call goes from one division to another, typically the call is transferred back to the carrier and then into another contact center. This call is treated as a new call, which prevents an enterprise from doing end to end call reporting for this customer and requires the customer to repeat their information. In the future, SIP holds the promise of not only integrating all calls, but all the channels of communication--voice, video, chat...and replacing CTI as a form of carrying information related to the communication.To fully realize the potential of SIP, enterprises need to move their 800 trunks from TDM/PRI to VoIP/SIP. Are the carriers ready? Are enterprises ready?

Costs: Carriers appear to be charging the same per minute for both solutions. The potential cost savings are in the access, lower power consumption, and equipment. The business case for SIP Toll Free Trunking will most likely need to be business value driven vs. cost savings driven.

Features: Delivering the call is fairly straightforward. But things like transferring the call, passing detailed info on the call like the ANI ii info to see if a caller is on a cell phone, and customer-entered digits from a carrier based IVR are not straightforward. One potential solution is outlined in this draft RFC, but there is no industry consensus on this.

Availability: VoIP/SIP trunking can be as reliable at TDM, but it requires new skills, testing & monitoring tools, and processes. One design consideration is to have enough capacity to handle "brown-outs." In the IP world when networks fail and reroute, it can take a few seconds. During these few seconds customers and/or agents think the call was dropped, hang up, then redial. This surge in calls can overwhelm a system if the capacity and throttling mechanisms are not in place.

Security: Since data is being sent along with voice, standard Internet security through multiple zones, firewalls, required. Even though Session Border Controllers (SBCs) can provide most of the security functionality, IP/SIP connections still need to go through a standard Internet DMZ that is monitored and auditable to the standard corporate security policy.

There are benefits today of going to all-SIP in the contact center today, and as 4G wireless takes off, SIP will further enable new multi-channel features including being able to send pictures to the call center agent from a cell phone.

I look forward to the VoiceCon Virtual Event session on SIP and discussing the above.