White Paper. Moving from ISDN to SIP: What you should know. A guide for anyone looking to implement SIP Trunks in their business

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1 White Paper Moving from ISDN to SIP: What you should know A guide for anyone looking to implement SIP Trunks in their business 1

2 Moving from ISDN to SIP: What you should know A guide for anyone looking to implement SIP Trunks in their business Contents Definition & History of SIP Trunks... 3 Definition... 3 How does it work?... 3 History... 4 Why SIP Now?... 4 SIP versus ISDN... 5 SIP Trunk Myths Debunked... 6 How it works: Migrating from ISDN to SIP... 8 Step One: Define requirements... 8 Step Two: Define any improvements... 9 Step Three: Put together a testing plan Step Four: Kit specifications Step Five: Choose a SIP Trunk provider Step Six: Install, Configure, Test Step Seven: Porting Step Eight: Cancellation of ISDN service Scenarios Example Company A: Relocation Example Company B: Cost Saving Example Company C: Disaster Recovery Conclusion Sources: Questions

3 Definition & History of SIP Trunks Definition SIP Trunking is the fastest growing telephony service evolving today. There are many different SIP Trunk providers out there, and hundreds of definitions of SIP Trunking. Our definition is simple: A Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunk is a connection that links a business, via its PBX, directly to the Public Telephone Network (PSTN) using an IP connection. In a nutshell, SIP Trunking is a form of VoIP telephony (Voice over IP). SIP trunks carry inbound and outbound voice calls, but also support video and data communications and much more. Many businesses are now turning to SIP to help them cut costs, streamline their telephony infrastructure, ensure flexibility and put in place business continuity plans. How does it work? SIP Trunks are not complicated. Your Business PBX hardware is connected to the IP carrier network via SIP Trunks, which are delivered using a dedicated IP connection such as a Leased Line or Assured broadband. Trunks can be added and removed quickly as desired, depending on the needs of your business. 3

4 SIP Trunks are also highly versatile, so they are also helping businesses everywhere to embrace Unified Communications: rather than separate technologies handling voice and data, everything can be delivered over an internet connection. History Although the first versions of VoIP began to appear in the 1980 s, SIP began its history in the 1990 s when the original protocol was co-designed by Professor Henning Schulzrinne of the University of Columbia. The University of Columbia define the SIP protocol as: SIP, (Session Initiation Protocol), is a signalling protocol for internet conferencing, telephony, presence, events notification and Instant Messaging Dr. Schulzrinne also co-developed the key protocols that enable VoIP and other multimedia applications. SIP Trunks themselves have been around since approximately 2007, when the protocol RFC 4904 appeared. This might come as a surprise to some people who are worried that SIP Trunking is a new and therefore untrustworthy form of communications. Why SIP Now? So why has SIP Trunking suddenly become such a buzzword, if it s been around for some time? What makes now the right time to think about SIP, and whether your business should implement it? Essentially it s all down to connectivity. Traditional broadband connections are being rapidly replaced with new and improved fibre broadband services, which are much more able to cope with the simultaneous demands of today s business world. Improvements in fibre technology are such that companies are finding themselves able to take advantage of technology that they couldn t before. As the Government commit themselves to ensuring the UK has wide access to superfast fibre broadband, the business world is benefiting in significant ways. Smaller companies can reach more customers in an increasingly diverse number of ways, and mid-size to larger enterprises are finding they can make the most of powerful tools and systems, and encourage more flexible working practices whilst also preparing themselves for future growth. Upgrading a business broadband connection to a dedicated, super-fast connection often prompts companies to review their current communications infrastructure at the same time. This is the point at which a shift from ISDN to a SIP Trunking model is proposed. 4

5 SIP versus ISDN The conversation businesses are having these days is whether business grade SIP Trunks are now better than traditional ISDN lines when it comes to meeting their increasingly complex needs. There are now over 1.2 million SIP Trunks 1 in the UK. Recent Gamma research has shown that 35% of companies questioned in the UK believe SIP is the most important telephony system available. 1 As of Jan 2015, Gamma 5

6 SIP Trunk Myths Debunked Like most technologies that are being increasingly adopted, myths and untruths abound. It s not secure You may have concerns about the safety of SIP trunks, and possibly heard about instances of fraud carried out against other companies utilising SIP trunking. Whilst these concerns are understandable, it is worth remembering that, if SIP trunks are implemented correctly, fraud should not be an issue. If anything, connectivity could be much more secure than it was previously. A properly configured SIP channel will allow you to handle your own connectivity via dedicated firewalls or a router with firewalls built in, which is in turn managed by the SIP channel maintainers or by your own IT company, depending on the set up. SIP specialists Gamma have a fraud monitoring system called CallGuard, which works at a network level to protect against hacking and unusual usage. Telephony system provider Avaya has created Session Border Control in the form of an onsite firewall. SIP Trunks are by no means insecure, if planned and installed correctly. My call quality will be compromised This myth comes partly from the confusion between non-business VoIP applications like Skype (which runs openly over the internet, and as a result experiences frequently poor quality or dropped calls) and business dedicated VoIP services such as SIP Trunking. There is also a legacy of ISDN providing excellent call quality that makes potential users dubious about SIP and whether it can deliver the same quality. SIP Trunking uses private IP connections specifically designed to carry voice, and as such come with Quality-of-Service guarantees. SIP Trunks therefore can deliver the same or sometimes even better call quality than ISDN. Call quality is also dependent on the network that delivers the call- if the network has any packet loss or poor jitter rates then the quality of the call could be compromised. This is why it is better to have uncontended networks in place, and why SIP Trunks are generally delivered via connections such as a Leased Line, or an Assured connection. Most SIP Trunking services will also come with dedicated support teams to help maintain SLAs and Quality-of-Service guarantees. 6

7 It ll cost me too much Upgrading to SIP Trunks should have the exact opposite effect, in that it could save you money in quite a significant manner. You ll save most noticeably when it comes to no longer paying ISDN rental line costs. Additionally, you ll have access to lower call rates or in some cases, free calls to UK destinations or mobiles, depending on the promotion. Some SIP providers talk of typical savings of 50% on line rentals, and 25% on calls. Calls between connected sites are also free, even those that are international calls. SIP Trunking has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid expensive callforwarding costs in the event of a disaster or relocation. SIP is new tech and I can t trust it SIP as a protocol has been around since the mid 1990 s. SIP trunks have had a presence since roughly 2007, so the technology has been in use for some time. Migrating Whilst it is perhaps too early to call it a mature service, and although carriers are still evolving their provisioning and support services when it comes to delivering SIP, it is safe to say there is a substantial body of expertise around in the marketplace today, and that the technology has been well tested to date. will be a hassle Deploying SIP Trunks is an arguably easier process than with ISDN, as long as you have a good plan in place before you start your project. Full onsite support is usually provided as standard by your provider, so it won t be the case that you ll be left to cope with any issues yourself. SIP trunking will just complicate everything If anything, the reason businesses like SIP so much is that it really helps when it comes to rationalising and streamlining telephony. You can converge voice, media and internet in one go, and rationalise the number of ISDNs and PBXs you need. This is particularly useful for companies operating on a multi-site basis. There will always be doubts about different technologies, especially when your previous solution has always served you well. However, it is true that the business world is in a constant state of evolution. Whilst traditional communications types such as ISDN might have fulfilled your objectives several years ago, at some point the needs of your business will surpass the capabilities of your current solution. This is why SIP is being embraced so widely- it is flexible, adaptive, and easy to mould to any business scenario. 7

8 How it works: Migrating from ISDN to SIP Migrating over from ISDN to SIP Trunking should be relatively hassle free. As with any other deployment project, the key to success will be down to having a plan in place beforehand. The following steps are our general recommendations for what that plan should incorporate. Step One: Define requirements Figuring out what your requirements are at the earliest possible stage is the starting point to any migration project. There will be business processes in place, both existing and new, that SIP Trunks have to support. Here are some questions that might help with figuring out what is needed exactly: How many phone numbers are there? What are those numbers? Where do they point? Is there an Auto-Attendant in place, or do the numbers point to Reception? Do other, more specific numbers go to certain departments or people? Break this down in detail. When inbound calls come in, do they enter a queue, go to a recording or otherwise? Voic system- how many, who and how do people access it? Call diverts- who can divert where, how is this configured? For each user, can you list their extensions? This information should be used to map out what the existing phone network looks like, and how calls are routed and handled. 8

9 Step Two: Define any improvements This is an ideal opportunity to look at what you have in place at the moment, and decide whether or not you can improve upon any procedures or processes that may have been around for a while. There will be several opportunities for change and improvement, and it is worth speaking to your staff to get a broader knowledge of any communications issues that impact their day to day lives in a negative way. Other areas of consideration could be: Disaster planning and resilience Having a solid contingency plan in place is worthwhile to protect your business against any possible disasters, outages or any other threat to the company. Now is the time to think about where calls need to be directed in the event of any of this happening. Staff mobility and flexible working Your staff may work very differently these days to when your original communications plan was put into place. For example, they may work on a flexible, remote basis, or alternate their office locations regularly. SIP Trunking enables you to be able to point calls for a particular number at a user no matter where they are- it is worth incorporating this consideration into your migration plan. Unified Communications Being able to integrate your communications systems into a single, Unified solution means that your staff could get access to their s, voic s, IMs, and call stats from a single place. It is worth having an idea of any UC systems that might suit your workplace and think about upgrading your system at the same time as making the move to SIP. Seasonal capacity Are there seasonal periods when sales and call volumes are higher, and are you finding yourselves able to cope with the increase in calls, orders, transactions and queries? Think about when you are likely to increase and decrease capacity to help you cope with these periods. SIP Trunks can be enabled instantly, so it should be no problem to ramp up your infrastructure on a seasonal basis whenever you need to. 9

10 Step Three: Put together a testing plan Figure out how the changes you are making to the way phones are networked, how calls are handled, where they point, how users access the information they need and so on will work in real-life. A solid testing plan should be put together that will lay out your process for checking each of the elements above rigorously, including any new emergency and resilience facilities which you are hoping to implement. Step Four: Kit specifications Now it s time to think about the equipment you need. Internet connectivity As SIP will eat up a good percentage of your current bandwidth, you might need to prepare for SIP by ramping up your IP connectivity. Are you implementing any secondary connection to help you deliver SIP Trunking? An Assured Broadband Connection or a Leased Line is typically needed for ensuring this connection is dedicated only to your business and not shared with the public. With Assured Broadband, you get varying numbers of guaranteed calls depending on your needs- options come in 5, 10, 15, and 20 guaranteed calls and bespoke packages for anything above 20 calls. Phones Now might be the time to invest in some new IP handsets to replace your existing analogue handsets. SIP compliant brands include Mitel, Avaya and Panasonic. Analogue handsets will work with SIP, although you may wish to take advantage of the enhanced feature sets and applications IP handsets offer over traditional analogue handsets. IPBX If your current PBX is not compatible with a SIP Trunk service, then you will need to invest in an IPBX that is. A reputable SIP Trunk provider will be able to check interoperability between your PBX and proposed SIP service, by testing both the hardware and software against the SIP Trunking service. Making sure your provider does this is important, as it will protect against any potential PBX software upgrades that might conflict with your SIP service. Switches It is recommended that voice traffic and data traffic is separated completely via adequate switching equipment. With a new IPBX, there needs to be enough network ports in the switching infrastructure to cope with the number of new phones being plugged in. Your SIP Trunk provider can again help you with the ordering of this equipment if need be. 10

11 Step Five: Choose a SIP Trunk provider At this point there is enough planning in place and knowledge of requirements to now select your SIP Trunk provider. If you haven t already got a provider in mind, here are a few questions to ask when approaching companies: Can they port your numbers? A good SIP Trunking provider can port anything, anywhere. Some other companies might be limited to what they can port, and where. You need a company that can port all of your existing numbers to their own service. Are there robust anti- fraud measures in place? Fraud is an increasing consideration with SIP. Your SIP Trunk Provider should be able to reassure you if you have any concerns, and have a good idea of what protection is available to combat fraud, including detection and notification processes. What do you get for your money? Cheaper isn t always better. If you are being offered a particularly low price, find out what is included in the service. Step Six: Install, Configure, Test This one should be straightforward. Once equipment is installed and configured, a few test numbers can be trialled and the test plan you drew up at the start of this process should be worked through, including testing any resilience or backup facilities. Step Seven: Porting SIP allows geographic numbers to be ported to any location in the world. Businesses often want to keep their existing numbers, but also want to have a local presence, where they can advertise a location specific number that will appeal to customers or potential customers in that region. Porting telephone numbers can take time. Although there is no definitive time scale, the usual timeframe is around 14 working days. However, in some cases, it could take up to 30 days. Porting depends on how the numbers are to be ported, and is largely down to your existing provider- if you have a porting agreement in place, then the conditions will be set out. Most of the major carriers will have porting agreements. When submitting a porting request, for every one of the numbers you want moved, it is important to provide as much information as possible to ensure your request is not rejected. Wait until confirmation of your number porting before you cancel your existing ISDN service. 11

12 Step Eight: Cancellation of ISDN service You can now submit your cancellation for your existing ISDN service, including your ISDN equipment. Technically, once your numbers have been ported, the ISDN circuit should cease to work. It is worth checking however that you are not being billed for the service any more. Scenarios The following are examples of a company looking to migrate to SIP, and the scenarios within which a move to SIP Trunking would benefit them. Example Company A: Relocation Example Company A have an existing ISDN30 service, the installation of which came with a fee. They are now looking to relocate. This presents them with some issues, particularly when it comes to moving across their existing numbers. Because the company s existing telephone numbers are on ISDN, they are restricted to where they can move whilst keeping the same number. This is because they are limited to an area within reach their current BT exchange. With SIP Trunks, this limitation is lifted. There are no barriers to relocation and keeping the same numbers, as SIP Trunks are not geographically bound. Example Company B: Cost Saving Example Company B are a growing company with an existing ISDN30 legacy service. They have 30 channels, costing them a significant amount in line rentals and call costs. The company decides that they would like to save money by replacing their ISDN30 and ADSL connection with a Leased Line, and SIP Trunks. Although there are some initial extra costs involved in moving from ADSL to a Leased Line connection, this is immediately offset by lower rental costs. The company saves further money when it comes to call costs- calls made via SIP are free between sites, even international calls. The company s new Leased Line connection gives their voice and data traffic complete priority on a dedicated line, giving them extra functionality as well as saving money. 12

13 Example Company C: Disaster Recovery Example Company C are a single site company with an existing ISDN30 service. The nature of their business is such that they need to have very good resilience and disaster recovery plans in place, so that there is no loss of business functionality in the event of a failure or other emergency. They decide that they are going to use SIP in conjunction with their existing ISDN service to make them more resilient. They have the choice of whether to make SIP Trunks their main option and the ISDN service a failover, or vice versa. The added benefits of using SIP to enhance resilience are that, on the occasion of any event, calls can be forwarded on to other destinations almost instantly, with no forwarding costs associated and no waiting for a middle man to deal with the enquiry, which can take up to 48 hours with some ISDN services. Conclusion It is true that SIP is not for everyone. It is also true, despite the current market hype, that ISDN is not yet redundant. In some cases, companies choose to marry SIP Trunking with their legacy ISDN as a dual solution, proving that it is possible to test the capabilities of SIP whilst not yet letting go of an ISDN service that has performed traditionally well. This flexibility is what defines SIP Trunking so well. It means that a huge opportunity exists for companies to take advantage of a means of business communications that is extremely adaptable to most business scenarios. The benefits are many, and the process of migration itself is straightforward, if done in adherence to the process laid out in this paper. Perhaps the most important thing to conclude with, however, is that there are now many SIP Trunk providers out there, looking to capitalise on this growing industry. As with most things, a SIP Provider should be chosen with care to ensure that your experience with moving across to SIP is hassle free. We hope that this Whitepaper will help you with this selection process. 13

14 Sources: Questions If you have any further questions or queries relating to our services, and how we can help you move to SIP, then please don t hesitate to contact us on: Alternatively, you can us at: Don t forget you can also visit our website at: 14

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