Category Archives: SIP Trunking & VoIP

This is a venue for discussing voice over internet protocol (VoIP) solutions for business.

Business VoIP Success Stories

Business VoIP is on the rise since it is a scalable and cost-effective option for leveraging telephone communications across an organization. Advocacy for VoIP services is all over the world of telecommunications not simply because of the hard data produced to support it, but because there are many real case studies of business VoIP success:

• NuVo Technologies, a Hebron, KY producer of high-end audio equipment, would have 20 – 30 callers hang up while on hold with its traditional phone system. With no abilities to project how long callers would be on hold or any real abilities to monitor the hold queue, the situation cost the company business. After transitioning to a VoIP system, NuVo can better analyze call patterns and field customer needs. Furthermore, the system aids in telecommuting which helps business continuity and emergency management.

• The Mennonite Mission Network, a religious outreach group which supported four offices and as part of its mission had nearly 30 long-distance employees and staff traveling all over the world, needed an effective replacement for its aging phone systems. Due to the need for mobility in missionary work, it was decided that as much flexibility as possible was needed in the solution. Ultimately, the MMM saved $15,000 to $18,000 a year with the new system and recouped its investment in 25 months.

• Sportsman’s Warehouse, a national chain of outdoor retailers, was achieving a 50% annual growth and had a phone system that could not keep up with that growth. The company needed a centralized phone systm to keep up with the rapid growth and new locations popping up across the country. Their goal is always to have customers in the store within two weeks of occupying a new building, a goal which the easy setup of a VoIP system helps achieve. With its new system the company is able to manage 2000 phones with an IT department of just 22 employees.

These are just a handful of business VoIP success stories. Contact InfoStructure and we will explain how we have assisted our customers in making this winning transition.

Exciting Trends in IP Business Communications for 2013

The Emerging Mobile Majority
The rapid adoption of mobile devices in the workplace continues to enhance productivity and efficiency. A recent report by Forrester observes, “A full 66 percent of employees now use two or more devices for work every day including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.”

Integrating Public and Private Clouds
The emerging mobile workplace requires an ability to switch between public and private clouds, and to do so both securely and seamlessly. Companies will be challenged to enthusiastically and competently embrace change and support cloud-based applications.

In 2013, in excess of 60 percent of companies will have instituted cloud computing to some degree, according to a recent Gartner report.

Security Initiatives
The need for cloud-based security is no longer just good business, it is essential. The need to protect proprietary data is self-evident. So is the need to keep customer information secure as well.

Also, legal mandates are as substantial as ever. Current initiatives include health care clouds to address privacy requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The public sector is looking to cloud-based solutions to maintain compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act. Finally, the payment card industry’s rapid emergence in mobile device-based transactions creates a host of new security needs in the cloud.

IP Traffic Growth — 29% per year
The pervasiveness of mobile devices and cloud-based computing will be driving forces in 2013 and beyond. The Cisco Visual Networking Index projects annual compound growth in IP traffic of a dramatic 29 percent through 2016. Consumers and employees alike will increasingly expect smart and secure networks to enhance their productivity and their lives.

About Us
InfoStructure is one of a new generation of IP business communications providers that is creatively harnessing the internet’s power and potential. In 18 years, we have grown from an Oregon-based ISP provider to a company with a fully redundant IP network that enables an array of IP voice and data services, including business VoIP. For information on how we can assist in the growth of your enterprise, contact us today.

SIP Trunking: What Is It and How Does It Support My Business

Cutting costs and increasing productivity is the mantra of most businesses today. Taking advantage of new telecom technologies is a prime way to increase communication and collaboration inside and outside the organization. To take full advantage of your business telephone services consider utilizing SIP Trunking.

In traditional telephony a physical circuit is need to connect the telephone system (PBX) to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). If you have various locations connected to your PBX, you are probably paying for a T1-PRI (Primary Rate Interface) to each, or if your capacity is larger than 23 channels you may have to purchase additional PRI circuits. With SIP trunking you eliminate the need for the physical circuit and receive telephone service over the data network instead; voice simply becomes another service running on your data network. The SIP trunk can carry voice, data and video all at the same time.

There is more to the cost efficiency of SIP trunking. As mentioned above, PRI is sold in increments of 23 but with managed SIP trunks you only pay for the lines or bandwidth that you need and add additional capacity when necessary. SIP trunking can also include all of your local and long distance telephone usage allowing you to predict and control your monthly communication expenses better than ever before.

An added benefit and one that can be crucial, is the disaster recovery capability of SIP Trunking. When utilizing direct trunk overflow you have the ability to transfer inbound calls to an alternate location (phone number). This can be invaluable if for any reason connectivity to the PSTN from a location is lost. This will allow you to continue communicating with your clients and employees until the situation is resolved.

At InfoStructure we know what it takes to leverage the most out of your business communication investment. With our InfoSIP trunking solution you have the flexibility of our national plan or local plan with free installation for either. Check out our FAQ page then contact us for a complete quote or help in determining what solution works best for your objectives.

What is SIP?

Our telecom industry just loves acronyms, which roll off our tongues in steady streams as though a different language is being spoken. Take “SIP” for example. SIP has been around for over a decade, but the term is still an enigma among small business managers, despite the fact that SIP and other modes of business VoIP are approaching mass market adoption. Perhaps the main cause of the confusion is the fact that SIP is often given other names within the industry or maybe because it’s represented in unintelligible “techie” terms. Hopefully we can briefly clarify the meaning and application of SIP and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is the signaling format of Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VoIP). SIP and VoIP are terms that are often used interchangeably, even though VoIP technically has a much broader application. SIP is a proven method for using an Internet connection for the purpose of voice transmission. The virtual paths over which SIP calls travel are most commonly called “SIP trunks” and “call paths.” They’re also less formally referred to as “VoIP phone lines” or just “Internet phone lines.” In the final analysis, they are economical alternatives to office phone lines and no more complicated to use than POTS…oh, that’s another telecom acronym that stands for “plain old telephone service.”

You don’t need to have an IP phone system to install SIP. If you do have an IP PBX with a VoIP-ready interface, you’re ready to go. If not, you can keep your existing phone system and still use SIP, in which case, you would need a network device that converts the phone signal to IP. These network devices vary in price, depending upon the number of required trunks, QOS and network security, but they are usually much less expensive than the typical PRI cards and other premise equipment used with a traditional PBX. If you’re in the market for a new IP phone system, you can purchase one from Cisco, Avaya or Shoretel, or you might alternatively choose a “hosted” VoIP PBX solution like our InfoTalk Pro, which is offered as a managed service.

With InfoStructure’s SIP, you don’t need to obtain new phone numbers when converting from a non-VoIP application. Your existing phone numbers can be “ported” by most SIP carriers. You can also order new numbers local to your area or “virtual numbers” – phone numbers with area codes and exchanges outside of your local area, whatever works best for your business. In addition, you receive one free phone number (DID) per SIP trunk. If you require more numbers, they’re available at only $1.00 each per month. Also included are caller ID with name, call hunt groups, and call detail reports via web portal.

A commonly asked question is regarding the size and type of Internet connection needed to accommodate SIP. A reliable Internet broadband connection is a prerequisite for any VoIP service, regardless of whether it’s DSL, wireless, Ethernet over copper, or fiber optics. The amount of bandwidth is definitely a consideration, and it depends upon your unique business needs for both voice and data. The bandwidth per SIP trunk varies with the type of compression used in the SIP carrier network, but as a rule of thumb with our SIP, you can conservatively estimate 80 Kbs per call, including overhead. So eight concurrent calls, for example, will use up to 640 Kbs of bandwidth.

The time that it takes to install SIP depends mainly upon what is needed to fulfill your specific requirements. A simple installation can take only a couple of days after your order is placed. A larger, more complex installation requiring multiple locations and network equipment installations could take up to two weeks or longer.

We hope this helps to remove some of the mystery surrounding SIP! For information on SIP pricing, check out our SIP product, InfoTalk Plus, available in special rate plans with both unlimited and metered usage. If you have any questions, please call us. Our Oregon call center is open 7 X 24 every day of the year with friendly and knowledgeable service reps waiting to take your calls and answer your questions.

High Definition (HD) Voice

While iPhone app’s are stealing telecom headlines, another revolution is stirring in an ancient phenomenon – human voice. With the new VoIP codecs, significant telephony improvements in audio are being made, and hearing is believing!

With the rapid transition of traditional phone service to VoIP, enabled by the tremendous flexibility of IP technology, new applications are emerging to create a richer user experience. IDC research shows that “the end user experience in current implementations of VoIP can be improved in a manner that is simple yet clearly demonstrates the value and superiority of IP-based communications.” (IDC: “Can You Hear What I Mean? Polycom Delivers HD Voice”, Stofa, 2006). With most of the hype surrounding mobile data applications, texting and social networking, voice is still regarded as the most important communications vehicle for conducting mission critical business, as well as the first choice in addressing the most important personal matters.

Decades ago, FM radio trumped the clarity, depth and range of sound transmitted by AM radio. Its “higher fidelity” was the result, in part, of its greater bandwidth component. A similar evolution in voice quality is being made in VoIP communications. Phone line quality, standardized by the old Bell Telephone system, which was measured in Hertz (Hz), was designed for voice in a low frequency band at around 3,000 Hz or 3 KHz. This “narrow band” frequency remained the standard for more than half a century. While voice quality saw some improvements in the 80’s and 90’s with digital switching and the deployment of fiber optics in carrier networks, the difference in quality was slight, and it was mainly in voice amplification and ambient noise reduction.

Today, a “wide band” IP technology is emerging, which is known as high definition (HD) voice. With HD voice, a carrier network device called a codec samples the sound stream 8,000 times per second and more than doubles the width of the sound spectrum reproduced – up to 7KHz, which adds significant depth and range to the audio – a much broader difference over standard phone line voice than just loudness, like FM is to AM. Phone line audio becomes as clear as face-to-face conversation.

You can hear the difference through a simulation on our HD voice web page and separately clicking on both buttons for “Standard Voice” and “Polycom HD Voice.” In order for you to achieve this level of quality in your office phone communications, you must have VoIP service with an HD voice application built into the carrier network, like our InfoTalk Pro product (most VoIP providers still don’t offer HD voice). In addition, you will need HD-enabled IP phones, like the Polycom SoundPoint series. These phones, we believe, are the best in business VoIP technology and are affordably priced. And the best news is HD voice is available through InfoStructure at no extra cost.

Virtual Office

Virtual OfficeFor the sake of convenience, cutting costs, or accomplishing out-of-office tasks, many employees today work from remote locations, including their homes, airports, coffee shops, other offices or just about anywhere their work takes them where they can stay connected. The challenge of these “virtual offices” is having a level of communication that is as accessible, flexible and productive as that of an office environment with in-house systems optimized for business communications. An answer to this challenge has been emerging for a decade and is just beginning to reach critical mass – hosted VoIP.

Hosted VoIP has many names, like hosted PBX, IP telephony, managed VoIP, and others that all point to the same thing – unified voice and data applications that are accessible through the Internet. Because these applications are “hosted” (I.e. they reside on a carrier’s servers), and not maintained at a particular business office, they can be accessed from anywhere on the planet…sort of like mobile phone ap’s but without all the downloading and with greater business efficiency than a mobile phone. These applications range from advanced PBX features to local and long distance calling, web conferencing, speech-to-text messaging, video, point-and-click calling, Internet faxing and much more.

The versatility of hosted VoIP platforms enables carriers to integrate new ap’s without you having to purchase additional systems, hardware or software. And because the platforms are scalable, you can add, delete and modify phone extensions or calling features on the fly. Your office phone number follows you around, whether you use an IP phone or soft client (a phone function manipulated from your PC screen, along with a headset). In other words, all of your outbound calls carry your name and/or office number, providing continuity in identification, and your inbound calls are received on the same number. And through a web interface, you have the ability to manage all of your communications. In fact, you have all of the exact same communication features that you would enjoy from your office on the same platform; nothing is sacrificed in your virtual office. You just can’t accomplish these things with a typical phone system!

Above all, hosted VoIP is an economical alternative. When you consider the huge capital cost, maintenance costs, and peripheral equipment expenses required with in-office phone systems, along with monthly phone line and long distance costs, hosted VoIP will usually save your business a bundle. Most providers offer hosted VoIP as a managed service billed monthly.

For more information on hosted VoIP, visit our web page on InfoTalk Pro – an innovative hosted VoIP solution from InfoStructure.

The Weak Link

Sophisticated IP cloud app’s work only as good as the network supporting them. The greater the reliability on cloud services, the more attention your network connection should receive.

Hosted VoIP is an excellent example. By hosted VoIP, we’re referring to an IP-cloud phone service where PBX functionality resides on an application server maintained by your service provider and is usually sold on a per-user-seat basis. Typically, with hosted phone applications, your provider also bundles the network call paths over which VoIP is carried. With the refinement of VoIP core-network technology over the past decade by the likes of Cisco, Argent, BroadSoft and Sonus,  the quality of VoIP has increased substantially. For that matter, the core of major IP networks, wherein transport, signaling and hosted functions  are provided, now operates at  levels of performance  comparable to traditional TDM networks. So why is VoIP still perceived to be inferior to traditional TDM services?

One major issue with hosted VoIP is often in the local network transport   – the Internet broadband connection –  and it’s usually the easiest part of the problem to solve. The problem may be as simple as insufficient bandwidth on your connection. With voice and data converged over the same facility, it stands to reason that your bandwidth, once used just for Internet data transport, must be increased to accommodate your hosted voice traffic. Yet, even if the bandwidth is sized correctly, there will be occasion when prioritizing voice packets will be necessary when they compete with your data packets for the same broadband pipe. A split second delay in a data download is usually more tolerable (and less noticed) than a disconnected phone call, which could occur with hosted VoIP with the exact same packet delay. Packet prioritization is usually accomplished by your LAN router.

In addition to pipe size and packet priority, the type of Internet broadband that you use will also affect your hosted VoIP quality. DSL, for example, is the most popular type of high speed Internet used by small businesses. DSL, however, is supported by a contention-based network. That means your packets, prioritized and sent successfully from you LAN over your DSL connection, still have to “contend” for transport onto the Internet once they reach the other side of the local DSL facility. If the DSL aggregation point (DSLAM) is experiencing a high load of your provider’s traffic, your packets will be delayed, and your hosted VoIP call degraded. It’s often that simple.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Your network connection may be it!

Demystifying SIP


The telecom industry has a tendency to shoot itself in the foot. It seems that every time a revolutionary idea emerges, it’s given a technoid sort of name that confuses the general public. SIP is no different.

Everyone knows what an apple is. Not everyone knows that the apple belongs to the subfamily Maloideae of the family Rosaceae. Why? Because no one cares…there’s no practical reason or value in knowing. And besides, who remembers this scientific jargon?

Likewise, everyone knows what a phone call is. Most everyone now knows what the Internet is. Very few people know what SIP is. The fact is the telecom industry, once again, labeled a revolutionary Internet communications capability – SIP – an acronym (no shortage in the industry on these) that describes its technical function, not unlike T-1, MPLS, DTMF, SMDS…the list goes on forever. And once again, the telecom industry has managed to intimidate and confuse the very people who need what it has to offer!

So let’s demystify this SIP thing once and for all. SIP stands for session initiation protocol (bare with me…it gets easier), a signaling protocol used for controlling multimedia over the Internet. More recently it has become associated mostly with the protocol for Internet phone calling that we know as VoIP. SIP enables VoIP calls to be made by most new business phone systems that are connected to the Internet with a high speed facility – DSL, fiber optics, wireless, etc.  A “SIP trunk” refers to the call path from a business phone system over a broadband connection and through the Internet – an alternative way of providing phone calling rather than the standard landline. If a phone system is not SIP-enabled, phone calling is still made possible by placing a protocol converter between the phone system and the Internet connection.

One more thing – why use SIP? There a few major reasons:

  • Cost reduction – The savings over traditional phone lines can be huge!
  • Scalability – Easy to implement, program and use.
  • Universality – It speaks the language of the global Internet.
  • Receptivity – The future of communications will be SIP-driven.

SIP – It’s that simple…well, almost. There are more technical aspects to SIP, but these are the basics. But the fact remains – the concept should have been given a different, more creative name by the telecom industry that everyone understands. Telecom should probably emulate the creativity of, let’s say, the computer industry. After all,  everyone knows what an apple is, thanks to Steve Jobs.

The SIP Surge

SIP trunking continues to steal the headlines in the world of VoIP phone services, but it represents only a fraction of the total business trunks in service today. So why all the hype about SIP?

SIP (session initiation protocol) experienced slowness in its early adoption stage, which is not unusual considering that legacy TDM solutions have been generally reliable and around for a long time. SIP has had to earn its place in the network domains of the small and medium enterprise, and that’s exactly what’s happening! The fact is that despite a sputtering economy, SIP trunking deployments doubled last year, making it one of the best performing VoIP services. And according to industry sources, the SIP trunking market in North America, which closed 2009 at $717.3 million in revenue, is projected to grow to $3.9 billion in revenue by 2016. That represents a seven year surge in growth of 544%!

You may ask, “What’s driving the SIP trunking market?”

It’s already an overly exploited VoIP industry term, but it still holds the promise of SIP – convergence, the ability to bundle voice and data on a high speed Internet facility. With TDM, a PRI or T1 provides up to 23 and 24 channels respectively, which for the large enterprise may still work well, but for the small and medium business, trunk capacity is a cost issue for which SIP trunks provide an economical solution. Simply stated, bundling eliminates phone lines and associated costs. And since SIP trunks can be ordered one at a time and then over-subscribed per number of phone stations, SIP becomes an even more attractive cost saver. Taking it yet another step, for businesses with multiple locations, SIP may be configured as centralized trunking that leverages the Internet cloud for inter-location traffic – another cost benefit.

Finally, SIP is a foundational service of other emerging business VoIP services, such as UC (unified communications). UC represents the latest in integrated IP services like instant messaging, presence information, IP telephony via PC as well as IP phone, video conferencing and speech recognition – all subjects of our future blog posts!