SIP up the benefits of migration

Nick Guite, General Manager for Fixed Networks at BT Wholesale, explains why he believes that resellers have an opportunity to drive positive change in business.

Last year BT CEO Gavin Patterson set a date for ISDN migration completion stating that by 2025 all customers will be on the IP network. A year on and we can see rapid development in products and services that is having a direct impact on customer decision making and pushing us towards that date, safe in the knowledge that we have solutions to inspire business communications. Whether to migrate now or later is no longer an argument about networks; it is about flexibility, greater cost control and increased services that previously were only available to large corporates.

While SIP trunking has been the enabler for this change, the attraction has been the world which opens up to businesses when SIP is in play. For resellers this is a world of margin and opportunity, where voice over IP, video conferencing, next generation voice services (such as call recording and call forwarding) and unified communications sit. The value is in the breadth and longevity of products and services, helping customers to work smarter.

This smarter way of working is already encouraging users to migrate early. There are currently around two and a half million ISDN customers and while there is no change to the ISDN service, as it stands, the reality is that IP-based networks offer a breadth of functions and products beyond the reach of ISDN.

Myth busting

Part of the issue with ISDN migration and a reason why forecasts have previously been low is perception of SIP. There has been an historical belief that SIP is in some way inferior to ISDN, which is certainly not true. We can maintain the same standards as a call placed over ISDN and yet SIP is cheaper to buy and maintain, with in some instances, free call packages available on the network. SIP is secure too, with ISO 27001 accreditation, dispelling additional myths that the network is open to abuse.

Of course this is something that traditionally can happen with major change and resellers have to be clear that this is not really a choice in strategy. The market as a whole is dictating. We have to accept the change, the move away from ISDN and PABX-driven installation and maintenance deals and embrace SIP as the new normal.

More for less

For resellers there is a clear opportunity. SIP trunking broadens the market, as there is a lower point of entry. Resellers can effectively take corporate quality VoIP and unified communications products and services to businesses of all sizes, offering flexible contract terms and SLAs. Solutions can be rolled out to customers with a smaller number of circuits and sites and there is flexibility to help resellers manage customer peak and roughs, ensuring scalability as and when it is needed. Minimal waste.

Part of the attraction for customers is that there is no need for a large capital outlay on hardware and legacy technology is not made redundant overnight. Customers do not have to rip out an existing PBX and handsets. The technology is compatible with a large number of existing PBX models and end users can therefore take a staged approach towards hosted communications services using SIP. This flexibility and scalability sets SIP trunking apart but its ease of entry comes with a warning for resellers. While existing resellers with a PBX base would naturally have a black book of potential leads for migration and upgrades, the nature of IP opens the door to data resellers too of course.

Competition for customers will naturally increase but telecoms resellers, given the nature of the staged upgrade capability, should be in the box seat. An understanding of legacy systems has a value here but only to a point. The true benefits of SIP have to be marketed and sold and this is where we come in with training and sales and marketing support.

Mobile integration and the culture of self-service also have to be taken into consideration. Customers want to take increasing control over their communications but they also want flexibility of costs and services from their supplier. This is where SIP can deliver but it’s up to resellers to dispel the old myths and help customers understand the true business benefits of migration.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine