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Making the Move to SIP Telephony

By TMCnet Special Guest
Graham Williams
  |  January 16, 2014

The days of using plain old telephone service (POTS) in business communications are fading fast. Increasingly, SMBs are turning to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert)) telephony to cut costs, simplify administration, unify communications and accommodate a more mobile workforce. If you’ve been considering the switch, there are plenty of reasons why now is a good time.

Widespread acceptance and adoption

Not that long ago, SIP was considered a new technology fraught with interoperability and functionality issues. The tide has turned though. According to a survey by Eastern Management Group, SIP is so pervasive today that when a business acquires a new telephone system, it typically supports SIP. IT managers say that interoperability challenges are practically nonexistent and that 99.9% of the time it just works.

Cost savings

The cost (and hassle) of managing a phone system and separate service provider, especially across multiple locations, shouldn’t be underestimated. There are individual billing and infrastructure/operational costs to oversee for each office. If those offices happen to be in different states or countries, the costs can really compound. With SIP, calls are made over an IP connection and are therefore significantly cheaper.

There’s also the cost of the equipment to consider. On-premise systems have their benefits, but it’s worth considering a hosted solution when budget is a primary factor. By outsourcing the infrastructure, businesses save on equipment, maintenance and management. As your business grows, there’s no need to ante up for additional hardware either. Instead, you can simply have your service provider add more lines.

Anywhere-access, any time

Industry surveys report that three in five SMBs now have employees who work outside the office. They also suggest that, as a result, those businesses are more likely to see revenues rise—compared to the companies with employees working in the confines of an office. As the teleworking trend continues to gain ground, SIP becomes a more attractive option.

Add the need to connect branch sites and remote offices, and the case for SIP is even stronger. For businesses with multiple locations, SIP can make staying in touch a whole lot easier. Employees can reach each other by dialing extensions, even if they’re oceans apart. There’s no need to remember phone numbers or incur long-distance usage charges.

The buzz around the Cloud
It seems like everyone and everything is moving to the Cloud these days. Indeed, a 2012 Microsoft (News - Alert) survey of more than 13,000 SMBs worldwide showed that the number of the world’s smallest companies using at least one paid Cloud service would triple in the next three years. Additionally, a survey by the Cisco (News - Alert) Internet Business Solutions Group reported that the SMB Cloud services U.S. market size is estimated to grow to $51 billion by 2015.

As Cloud communications become practically mainstream, they’re making more sense for SMB telephony. Small businesses can take advantage of enterprise-level features hosted in the Cloud without the cost, expertise or headaches associated with managing the equipment in-house.

Hardware: what to consider
With all of these factors coalescing, there’s an increasing demand for compatible hardware—in this case, the SIP endpoint or phone. As the world’s leading manufacturer of corded and cordless phones, SIP endpoints are in VTech’s sweet spot. They’re the newest addition to our portfolio of SMB solutions, and they offer key features that will benefit any business wanting to unify its communications, including:

  • Compatibility with leading, hosted and open-source PBX (News - Alert) platforms
  • Feature-rich desksets and cordless options
  • Dual Ethernet ports and support for Power over Ethernet (PoE), which cut down on wiring and cabling costs
  • Auto-provisioning for easy, cost-effective installation across locations
  • Support for up to five SIP service accounts 
  • Large backlit displays, simple navigation pads for scrolling through menus, programmable feature keys and easy-to-read buttons that make the phones easy to learn and use
  • Shared call appearances (SCA), which display incoming calls on multiple phones, simultaneously
  • Busy lamp fields (BLF) that let you see the status of other extensions in your office—even at remote locations
  • Life-like sound quality with HD Audio and G.722 wideband codec support
  • Standard, two-year warranties

Of course, the extent of your system’s call handling capabilities will depend on your SIP service provider and phone system platform.

Whether you’ve outgrown your traditional analog or digital phone system or are starting from scratch, SIP telephony is a great way to contain costs, improve collaboration and leverage your existing technology.

Graham Williams is Vice President of SMB Sales for VTech (smbphones.vtech.com). He has worked in the technology sector for 19 years, including nine years in the telephony/unified communications space. His resume comprises significant experience managing channel partners, enterprise partners, service providers (e.g., Verizon (News - Alert)) and global alliance partners (e.g., IBM).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi