A recent survey by Computer Technology Industry Association found that 60 percent of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) plan to increase their use of converged voice and data communication solutions during the next 18 months.
Survey respondents were technology decision-makers at companies with 20-500 employees. Overall percentages came out as shown in the list below.
- 40 percent – currently evaluating a converged solution, or will begin making an evaluation within 18 months
- 20 percent – currently implementing converged solutions, or plan to do so within 18 months
- 13 percent – have already implemented a converged solution
One reason for the growth in converged communications is the advent of SIP-trunking—a way for SMBs to cut down considerably on the startup and management costs of switching to VoIP phone service, according to Todd Landry, Vice President of IP-PBX provider Sphere.
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is a protocol for initiating interactive user sessions involving multimedia elements.
Landry explained to TMCnet.com that until SIP-trunking entered the picture, using VoIP meant purchasing and managing an expensive and complicated system of gateways to convert voice signal from digital to analog and back again—often involving several such “jumps” during the call’s journey from sender to receiver.
“The jumps cost money, and they degrade the quality of the voice call,” he noted.
SIP-trunking eliminates the need for gateways by using software to manage a company’s VoIP service, and by utilizing the carrier’s already-existing network of gateways.
When both caller and receiver are set up with internet telephony systems, SIP-trunking is especially efficient, because it allows a call to travel the entire way as a digital signal.
SIP-trunking also works well in cases where a call starts out digital and ends up analog. In that scenario, the signal would stay digital until the last leg, and then be converted back to analog, skipping the double-conversion normally associated with VoIP.
For many SMBs, using a software-based, SIP-trunking platform means the payback for switching to VoIP can occur in as little as 3-12 months, Landry said.
“It takes a lot of the cost out of traditional hybrid systems,” he added.
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.