I prepared this last year and discussed it with many VARs. Recently I was asked about it again. So today, I am reissuing the five VoIP/SIP Trunking Assessment Criteria.
Cost: The current economic environment creates an opportunity for SMBs to address cash flow and profit margins. SIP Trunking allows an SMB to implement converged services (voice, data, video), immediately eliminating the need for separate dedicated lines. Moreover, when SMBs deploy SIP Trunking with an IP PBX the resulting savings can easily increase their profit margin. Unlimited local and long distance calling over a converged connection (DSL, T1 or DS3) can drop monthly telecom costs from $2800 to $840, a 70% savings, because entry SIP Trunks average $11-13 per month per call session while POTs lines are usually twice that amount or more. In addition to the cost of the service, the second major item of savings is the actual IP PBX. It can represent significant cost savings over a TDM platform. IP PBXs range from very simple PC servers running open source software to proprietary implementations, all at a much lower cost than their predecessors.
Quality of Service (QoS): A business needs its phones and they must work reliably with good voice quality. Historically, POTs lines have led the way and many SMBs were disappointed with the public Internet VoIP voice quality and service. Today, private IP networks are available, offering QoS and reliability equal to that delivered over a TDM network. SIP Trunking deployed on a private network, such as the robust nationwide network built and engineered by Broadvox, is proven to satisfy the most discriminating customers. Quality of service also requires a strong customer service capability, availability and trouble ticketing process. The correct network supplier will have all of these elements in place.
Solution Offering: What is the existing telecom equipment and what is proposed? VARs can assist SMBs in defining their unique communications requirements. SMBs may realize that their legacy equipment is feature rich, but lacking in ability to maximize use of the Internet or migrate to a converged infrastructure. SMBs need to compare the added value of new equipment versus adopting a hybrid solution using legacy CPE with SIP enabled IADs and gateways versus doing nothing. Properly defined solutions can be deployed with minimal disruption of daily business transactions and short training periods. Deployment can be staged or cutover all at once; the strategy should be identified within the solution proposal.
Support: Before deploying a SIP Trunking solution, SMBs must have the assurance that support will be available for the solution should a problem occur. With Broadvox, support is provided through an experienced customer service organization, strong team of SIP engineers able to address any interoperability or provisioning issues and a 24x7 Network Operations Center continuously monitoring all traffic and network conditions. The VAR has support responsibility as well. The VAR must be ready to address equipment issues, configuration questions, router installs, etc. Support must be available as part of the proposal or on a pay per need basis. Understanding the commitment of both the VAR and service provider is a key criterion for the SMB, and should be spelled out in the proposal and service level agreement.
Standards Compliance: Most new telecom equipment is IP enabled and SMBs must search for solutions that will enable them to take advantage of the available productivity enhancements. Today, SIP enabled servers and services are not plug and play. Similar to the early days of T1s, SIP Trunks need to be tested between the OEM IP PBX, IAD or media gateway prior to being deployed in a customer environment. The testing should result in the equipment and service being certified by either the OEM or the service provider. Interoperability that is certified has the highest potential to support the next generation of converged service applications such as unified communications, presence, find me/follow me, and many others. VARs again can step in to guide end users to the best solution to enable SMB infrastructures when implementing this new software.
In summary, SMBs must not stagnate during these economic times. VARs must assist them in quickly assessing the best strategy to move forward in implementing IP communications. The five key assessment criteria are cost, quality of service, solution offering, support and SIP standards compliance. Deployed properly, SIP Trunking will deliver the level of VoIP communications SMBs and enterprises require and want.