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SIP Trunking Creates The Telephony Cloud
SIP Trunking as a technology option for telephone services in the cloud.

By: John Shepler

Thinking about cloud networking, what normally comes to mind is meshed data networks transferring packets from location to location. But some companies are also moving their telephone services to the cloud. What advantages and challenges does this present?

The PSTN as a Cloud
In a way, the original public switched telephone network is the oldest existing example of a cloud network. It is a managed system, carefully engineered to assure availability and quality of service, that serves a vast number of users simultaneously. Each customer connects to the cloud via a direct line to the nearest cloud port at the local central office. Users don’t really care to know what goes on in those vast switching offices. They just want to be able to make a call from one location to another at will.

ISDN PRI to Create Cloud Networks
Some companies engineer their own telephone cloud networks using ISDN PRI digital lines to connect PBX systems at multiple offices. The advantage of doing this compared to using the public network is that you don’t have to pay for each call. Only those calls to and from the outside world are subject to a fee.

MPLS For Converged Voice and Data
The more modern approach is to set up converged voice and data networks between business locations so that only one network need be maintained. MPLS networks are often used to implement this cloud network, as they are capable of maintaining quality of service at reasonable cost. On a large scale, this is known as enterprise VoIP. There may be only one IP PBX system at headquarters that coordinates all calls, or each location may have a smaller system. ISDN PRI trunk lines connect to the public telephone network for off-net calls.

The SIP Trunking Alternative
SIP Trunking offers an alternative to the ISDN PRI trunk lines for transporting voice traffic. A SIP trunk is part of the VoIP system and acts as the network connection to a remote service provider. That service provider handles termination of calls to the public phone system as needed. Since they terminate calls for many customers, per minute costs can be lower than ordering phone lines locally.

The Virtual PBX
Some companies go even further and get all their telephone services from the cloud. All they have is individual SIP telephones or analog phones with adaptors connected to their company LAN. A private line connection or SIP trunk connects to what is called avirtual PBX system at the service provider.It handles all telephone switching, on-netand off. This system is ideally suited to “virtual” companies that don’t have a bricks and mortar presence. The employees are scattered over a wide geographical area. Thanks to the virtual PBX, they are interconnected just like they would be within a physical office building. Even the receptionist is virtual, routing incoming calls by voice or keypad requests.

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