The land lines that we know today are going away.  By the end of this decade, your company will most likely NOT be on traditional phones lines as we have known them for the last 75+ years.   So what will you need to convert your business to these new phone lines of the future?   That next generation phone line is called session initiation protocol or a SIP session.   Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and some of the concerns around that transition for your business.

First, let’s talk about the true business benefits.  Most importantly, SIP is very cost effective.  A SIP session, with some amount of bundled long distance, will run roughly $20/month without any taxes.  That phone line cost will vary by carrier, but I have noticed some providers are bundling unlimited long distance with that rate.   And, while you design your SIP solution, there is a high probability you will be able to lower additional cost by disconnecting the overall number of phone lines for all locations.

Additional benefits come by way of phone line redundancy.  What does that mean?  With a SIP solution, you can configure it in a way that your voice calls can automatically rollover to a second location in the event disaster or something takes place at your primary location.  Not all companies have multiple facilities and that luxury, but don’t fear, you can sign-up with a data center using collocation services to accomplish this business benefit.  Or you can have dual paths into your one location.

Next, digging a little deeper, we quickly realize that as the design of your new SIP phone line technology solution comes together, we have also avoided the last mile issue where we lost our phone service due to a backhoe trench project which dug up the lines in your area.  Yes, now we can point our phone numbers at the new SIP sessions at the data center or your primary business location, where in the past, each location required their own lines.

The last key business benefit of the new SIP phone line technology that I would like to point out is around added capacity and scalability.  In the past, as your business continued to grow, you had to closely watch the number of phone lines your phone system supported.  With SIP, the scalability is much different as some systems have virtually no limit to the number of SIP lines you can have connected.

Now, for the bad or at least the concerns around SIP phone lines.    Will your current system support SIP phones?  Possibly, but you may need to purchase a new system or a converter in order to use the new lines.

A very important consideration when looking at SIP is around faxing.  Most carriers will tell you to avoid faxing on SIP sessions at all cost.  The error rate increases significantly and specifically when you have larger faxes of many pages.   There are several options, which the simplest is just keeping your faxes on dedicated analog phone lines.  This is an area that carriers have been working on and I anticipate more support in the next few years.

Probably the most important concern I can share on this next generation phone line is around security.  The way SIP was built, it is using data communication networks, meaning we now need to use the same security practices on these connections as we use on our Internet and other communication lines.  You must have a firewall device (better known as a session border controller) that terminates your SIP sessions and keeps it secure against malicious attacks.  Beyond that, it is important to have a thorough review by your IT Security department or a third party to verify best practices are being followed to ensure secure communications have been established.

So now what?  How do you move forward and benefit from this powerful new phone line technology while avoiding these pitfalls?

Although you might have a phone system ready for SIP, your phone provider might not be ready.  Make sure you interview your phone provider and understand where they have completed successful SIP deployments and how they have addressed those concerns above.  And, prior to calling your phone company to sign up for the new SIP service, make sure to complete a carrier assessment so you understand all of your options.  There are many providers out there offering this next generation of phone line.

If you’re interested in learning more or need assistance with your carrier assessment, please contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us. Lastly, to learn more about RSM’s service offerings check out our website.