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January 02, 2014
SIP Phones Increasingly Useful as More Businesses Head to the Cloud
By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

One study last year showed that over half of enterprises are already using the public or private cloud. Looking ahead to this year, there will be more use of hybrid and multiple clouds. And, as more businesses move to the cloud and other hosted services, Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) phones will become increasingly useful.

The market for SIP phones is set for expansion, too. Last year, Eastern Management Group conducted a survey of 17,000 IT managers and vendors, which revealed that only a few SIP phone makers have more than a 10 percent market share in any region, according to a report. For instance, Polycom (News - Alert), Aastra and Grandstream had 10 percent share of the market in the U.S. As of last year, Polycom had a 46 percent market share in the United States. But there is room for other players.

Just look at some of their features and benefits and it will be clear why SIP phones have the potential for more popularity.

Unlike legacy phones, SIP phones are cloud-based, meaning that users need to have a high-speed Internet connection and select a service provider. They also need necessary hardware.

In a recent Cepro article, Fred Harding, who works for Capitol Sales, said SIP telephony “makes sense in small-to-medium-sized applications.”

Consider the cost benefits with SIP. On the one hand, SIP phones systems cost less than KSU (Key System Unit) telephone systems. They are also typically less expensive when it comes to the cost per phone line. Harding estimates the cost per phone line will be under $50 with SIP. Sometimes, service providers will provide a flat rate for all services. Others charge a per-minute rate. There are many economical features, too, such as long distance for no extra charge, integration with cell phones, and voicemail functions.

When it comes to installation of SIP phones they are made via a network. Each SIP phone is connected into the switch, and needs to be programmed and configured.

The signal has a moderate- to high-speed connection, Harding adds. He also suggests the use of “better quality networking equipment.”

There are many different providers of SIP phones from which to choose. Often, they will have many function buttons – which makes them useful for business applications. Some of the buttons, mentioned by Harding, include soft buttons for intercom and speed-dial, big LCD readouts, additional SIP account numbers, interfacing with control systems and IP cameras.

SIP phones will typically provide voicemail, caller ID, compatibility with wireless headsets, multiple ring tones, and lights to indicate conferencing, extension and or line use. Also, incoming calls can be answered by anyone anywhere, without the caller knowing. Callers can be easily transferred, too.

So SIP is the way to go in 2014.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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