How to pick a SIP trunk provider
If you’ve spent any amount of time looking at buying telecoms services you’ll know that the industry isn’t just saturated, it’s complicated and difficult to untangle.
Thankfully, we’re the untanglers and have no problem giving our unbiased (mostly) advice for picking a SIP trunk provider that won’t hurt your wallet or your business.
The industry in 2021
As the world reels from the waves of the pandemic, more and more businesses are looking for ways to deal with their communications.
Especially with everyone out of the office, and away from their on-site networks, PBXs, and connections.
Spending on comms continues to go up in 2021, with Gartner’s most recent update (October 2020) forecasting the sector will account for an eye-watering 36% of total IT budgets this year.
So why SIP trunks?
Well, essentially with SIP trunking, there are no problems with capacity. The way it works is similar to your internet bandwidth at home. The more calls you need to make the more channels you need in your SIP trunk.
Unlike a plain ISDN PBX, with SIP trunks you have the option of increasing or decreasing the number of channels you need as and when you need them in almost real-time. Win-win.
How much money are you really going to save by shifting to this new technology?
Well, in a study by Nemertes Research, nearly half (44.9%) of the ~600 organizations they interviewed reduced their overall PSTN access spend by an average of 16.1% by adopting SIP.
In addition, the overall operational cost of managing your unified communications platforms drop by an average of 39%.
SIP trunk provider essentials
The more markets you have access to, the more customers you’re going to be able to be in contact with.
Obviously, this is important if you’re expecting to expand overseas or have offices in a number of different countries but it also means that if you want to call customers directly, you’re going to have access to those all-important local numbers, which we all know, if you’re not using, you’re missing out.
As part of the coverage a supplier has, it’s also important that the quality and latency of the calls you’re going to have are as good as if you had an office down the street.
Not all connections are made equal after all and we’ve all experienced the awful experience that comes with a lagging phone call.
In an age where GDPR is a household term and companies are being more careful than they have before with their data handling, things like compliance come as second nature to businesses.
That being said, almost every country in the world has its own standards, laws, rules, and regulations for cloud communications and many SIP trunk providers struggle to get access to the countries that cause the biggest headaches.
If you want to be safe rather than sorry, make sure you go for a provider that values compliance or risk losing your call connectivity.
Optimizing service uptime is important if you want to appear to be reliable to your customers, and unfortunately, just co-locating across two or three data centers isn’t enough if you’re planning to go global.
Not just that, but you need to make sure certain requirements and regulations are met when it comes to the reliability of your service.
A good indicator of a quality provider is points of presence (PoPs), how many they have, and how many have the capacity to support a large-scale contact center.
This will give you an idea of how well they will be able to provide ongoing, uninterrupted access to the areas you want to cover.
As your business grows and expands into new territories (hopefully) it becomes important to be in control of your operations without creating extra work.
A good SIP trunk provider will give you the ability to control your communications stack in every country you’re present in whilst providing support for everything from your initial setup to implementing new features and working with APIs.
Okay, we’ll admit, there’s a slight bias here in that we think we’re the best SIP trunk provider, but in the end, this is solid advice if you plan on looking for a SIP trunk provider, regardless of who you go for.
5 questions to ask
In the enterprise telecommunications field, we don’t have the luxury of blind faith in our products and services.
This means you need to be asking the right questions to make sure you’re getting the best of all the options above.
With the telecoms industry the way it is, even the savviest of IT professionals can get bogged down in the details of each supplier to the point where it becomes difficult to distinguish the good from the bad.
So what questions should you arm yourself with when looking for the ideal communications partner?
1: What kind of services do you offer?
If all you need is SMS services or PSTN access in limited markets, then your pool of available partners is fairly large.
But, if you want SMS and virtual toll-free numbers in emerging markets, your choice of providers is more likely to be limited, and you are likely to benefit from partnering with a single Communications as a Service (CaaS) partner who can meet your global needs, versus using different vendors within individual markets.
Evaluate not just what the provider offers today, but their roadmap for the future.
2: What is your policy on regulatory compliance?
Providers who can support regulations like emergency services call routing will have an advantage over those who do not natively provide such capabilities and must instead work to integrate a variety of partners to deliver a broad service offering.
3: How reliable are you?
Providers should be able to deliver highly reliable services, across their entire operating areas, with rapid failover times. They should deliver monitoring and reporting capabilities that allow customers to see exactly how services are performing, both in real-time and historically.
4: What kind of quality and performance can you guarantee?
Providers with large numbers of interconnects to top-tier carriers around the world are better able to provide high-quality, reliable services than those with limited interconnection points and Points of Presence (PoPs).
They will reduce the number of hops that calls must take transverse networks, as well as potential delays from transcoding between networks.
Remember to ask about their experience at this point. Providers with a long track record of providing globally available services have an advantage of startups or those with minimal service reach.
Newer providers may not yet have infrastructure and support operations in place to scale to meet the needs of global enterprises.
5: What support can you offer us?
Providers will often differentiate themselves on factors like mean time to repair, scope, and availability of support (e.g. 7x24x365 versus business hours only), as well as customer ratings such as net promoter score (a measure of the likelihood that a customer is willing to recommend a service).
Remember: cloud communications shouldn’t be complicated, and a good provider and partner should be able to give you a clear idea of how they’re going to help your clients by creating an ideal offering based on your business.