ISDN Conversion Battleground

With BT intent on moving all customers off ISDN by 2025, the channel is battling to transition their customers over to IP before the competition beat them to it. Paul Wakefield, Gamma’s SIP Trunking Product Manager answers the question that pose a barrier to SIP.

According to Cavell Group the tipping point for SIP has been reached; with over 2M channels using SIP, there are just under 1.5M left to convert.

So, what’s stopping some businesses moving over to IP voice? And what should resellers consider when positioning SIP as the obvious choice?

It’s a new technology

Telephony is a utility. It’s a service you simply expect to work. Many decision makers assume that as they’re unfamiliar with SIP-related technologies, it cannot be trusted.

The truth is that SIP offers more value, flexibility and control than ISDN, but unless you have an existing problem, you might not be looking for the solution!

It’s down to the reseller to educate their customers on the benefits of SIP – flexibility, lower costs, built-in business continuity and resilience to name just a few. As the UK’s market-leading supplier, we see it as our responsibility to ensure our partners are properly trained and equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to effectively sell, provision and support Gamma SIP Trunks.

Sweating legacy systems

Customers that have significantly invested in systems and hardware want to get us much ROI as possible. All manufacturers now produce IP-enabled hardware as standard, but some legacy kit may simply be unable to support SIP Trunks.

In this instance the cost savings attached to the transition can help off-set the cost of a new system, and there are tangible business benefits on offer, including high availability, the ability to never miss a call and improved customer responsiveness.

Perception is everything

Given that SIP offers so much more than ISDN, many people assume that means premium prices. In fact, most businesses moving to SIP can make significant cost-savings.

With SIP you don’t need expensive ISDN lines so you’re not paying for lines you don’t use. Customers could also realise additional cost-savings e.g. Gamma SIP Trunks includes free calls to UK 01, 02, 03 and mobile numbers.

Call quality

For many people their first experience of VoIP is using consumer-focused services like Skype. Although these free tools work fine for home users, businesses won’t tolerate the glitches that are often experienced. Poor latency, jitter and packet loss all create poor user experiences. Business-grade SIP trunking provides a quality call service that is comparable to ISDN.”

Equally if you’re unfamiliar with SIP, you may question its abilities, and again in terms of call quality, resilience and availability options, features and services, SIP has over a decade’s worth of development and scalability under its belt.

Disruption of moving

Historically, replacing systems can be time and resource intensive. But the switch to SIP is surprisingly easy:
No new lines required – SIP trunks can use an existing broadband connection or run over a dedicated voice circuit with attached service level agreements.

As SIP is a direct replacement for ISDN, doing away with your customers existing ISDN lines will create spare bandwidth.

No new PBX hardware needed – existing PBXs should be able to be modified to make use of SIP trunks. If it’s over five years old they may have to upgrade, but the vast majority of PBXs are compatible and at worst may need a session border controller (SBC) fitted.

Scalability – for seasonal businesses, capacity can be added and removed as required without having to order additional physical lines.

It’s not secure

SIP security is a hot topic and there’s a perception it’s not as secure primarily because it is IP-based. This is simply not true! Effective configuration and the use of specialist hardware such as an SBC can go a long way to securing a SIP service. Gamma also includes a fraud management feature into our standard product to offer the ability to control exposure to such an incident, offering peace of mind and control to the customer.

As more businesses switch to SIP, the conversation is moving away from ‘why move?’, to ‘which SIP service is best for my business?’. To be considered as a SIP supplier of choice, innovation and differentiation is key. SIP is no longer just about IP voice connectivity, it’s about adding more value and offering different features to make the decision for users to migrate to SIP more compelling. Gamma launched its SIP Trunk Call Manager service earlier this year that does just this, providing all the features and benefits of Gamma SIP Trunks together with feature rich, centralised call control in the network, helping channel partners move away from pure price-led conversations and giving them a clear advantage in an increasingly crowded ‘me too’ market.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine