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Is your organization prepared to deploy SIP trunking services?

Before deploying SIP trunking services, organizations need to make sure they are prepared. Read this FAQ to learn how to prepare and protect SIP trunks.

Session Initiation Protocol and SIP trunking services are a cornerstone of business telephony. SIP controls the initiation, modification and termination of real-time communications sessions, such as voice and video calls.

To ensure a successful deployment, IT needs to understand how a business benefits from SIP and what preparations need to be made before a deployment. In addition, IT should be aware of what pitfalls may occur during deployment and how to protect SIP trunks after deployment.

How do you prepare to deploy SIP trunks?

The first step to prepare for a SIP deployment is vendor research. IT decision-makers need to know which vendors serve their area and what tools they offer beyond SIP trunking services, such as failover backups, denial-of-service protection and performance reporting. Sending out a request for information and talking to a vendor's current customers will help determine if a vendor is the right fit for an organization.

Network requirements also need consideration before deployment. IT needs to be sure the network can handle SIP traffic. Most providers will have a calculator to estimate the bandwidth requirements needed to support a SIP deployment.

When evaluating vendors, be sure to see if they offer predeployment testing, which can alert IT to future quality problems, such as latency. Most providers have the necessary tools to test connections before a full deployment. Similarly, providers may offer a trial period before purchase to work out any potential service issues.

What are the potential SIP deployment stumbling blocks?

During a SIP deployment, IT should know the pitfalls to avoid. The first is deploying SIP with insufficient bandwidth. Without the right bandwidth and configuration, users risk facing service disruption or latency that diminishes call quality.

Improper network configuration can also cause problems during a deployment. If calls won't connect, it's possible the session border controllers (SBCs) aren't configured properly and are preventing traffic coming in or out of the network. 911 services also need to be properly configured, or first responders may not get the correct location during an emergency call.

Finally, organizations should pay special attention to the exact language in a contract to avoid extra charges. IT decision-makers should read through a contract to look for any additional fees, such as extra charges for 911 calls. Running potential scenarios is a good way to estimate usage cost and avoid potential pricing surprises.

How do you protect your SIP trunks?

SIP trunks can be hacked to exploit a business's telephony system. IT needs to investigate the protections available from vendors and know the internal steps to take to ward off potential security threats.

IT decision-makers should be on the lookout for services like trunk encryption, IP authentication and fraud protection. Trunk encryption protects SIP trunks by encrypting all traffic that flows from a PBX to the vendor. IP authentication adds another layer of security by requiring credentials before granting access to the system.

Vendors that offer fraud protection will monitor SIP trunk usage and alert an organization if users exceed a target spending limit. Keeping track of usage will prevent someone from hacking in and making expensive calls on a business's system.

Vendors also offer SBCs as another protection tool. SBCs provision calls to weed out potential threats, but without consistent updates and proper configuration, they can leave your system open to attack.

Outside of the protections offered by SIP vendors, IT can take simple steps to better protect SIP trunks, such as protecting access with complex passwords and limiting who has access to the telephony system. To minimize the chance for unauthorized access, organizations may want to block traffic from external sources except for the SIP provider.

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