What is bring your own carrier?
One of the biggest challenges of upgrading an on-premises UC system is choosing a public telephony carrier that meets an organization's existing and future needs. Historically, UC vendors -- particularly those that sell UC as a service (UCaaS) -- struggled to deliver carrier services to customers with widely varying needs from a PSTN carrier perspective.
While some organizations can relatively easily migrate to their UCaaS provider's carrier service, large and geographically distributed organizations sometimes find the UCaaS provider's built-in PSTN offering does not have sufficient global coverage or cannot compete with the existing carrier from a price perspective.
This has led to situations where businesses either had to make sacrifices to migrate to their chosen UCaaS platform or were forced to scrap the option completely due to deficiencies in the UC vendor's built-in PSTN capabilities.
How does BYOC work?
Addressing this issue, UCaaS vendors have started to offer alternative PSTN connectivity methods that let businesses keep their existing Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) carrier services that work for the business. These third-party carriers must meet certain standards set by the UCaaS vendor to ensure that all features and functions within the new UC platform are usable while simultaneously delivering the PSTN service flexibility a business requires.
Leading UCaaS platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex and Zoom, let voice administrators reuse and repurpose their existing carrier contracts, dial plans, features and on-premises session border controllers that can be rerouted to the new UCaaS platform. In turn, this gives organizations the ability to pay a single bill for both UCaaS and PSTN services. Alternatively a business may also opt to keep its carrier billing separate from their UCaaS billing contracts.
The benefits of BYOC
The benefits of bringing your own carrier to a new cloud communications offering will vary from one company to the next. The most common benefits include the following:
- Support for existing PSTN contracts and gateway hardware.
- No requirement to port direct inward dial numbers from one carrier to the other.
- Maintenance of PSTN routing/SIP trunking and dial plan functionality to remote sites.
- Achievable level of global calling coverage and local access desired by businesses.
- Less expensive PSTN calling rates.
- Improved control over PSTN quality of service.
The drawbacks of BYOC
Deciding to opt for a BYOC architecture does come with some disadvantages compared to simply using the built-in carrier of the chosen UC provider. For one, it increases the amount of integration planning and configuration overhead that will have to be performed by in-house staff or a third-party integrator. In most cases the onus is placed on the customer to properly configure voice gateways so they will connect to the new UC service.
The second issue revolves around ongoing support. If there is an issue with inbound or outbound PSTN calls, the IT department will have to verify whether the fault is in the UC platform, the carrier or the corresponding gateway hardware used to bridge carrier services to the UC provider network. This is unlike a fully managed UC platform that includes carrier services, where no guesswork is needed when troubleshooting or making support calls.
When to use BYOC
Organizations that don't have a legacy UC system in place or complex PSTN requirements may find it best to simply use the calling plans built into a UCaaS platform. That way the UC provider is fully responsible for all communications functionality in addition to the PSTN plan.
On the other hand, for organizations that are locked into an existing carrier contract or have complex call routing that spans multiple regions or countries, the easier and potentially more cost-effective method is to use BYOC to extend the carrier to the new UC platform. Not only will it save time during the planning and migration phases, but it also simplifies the end user experience for outbound calling to internal remote sites and destinations external to the organization.