Compared to most businesses, hotels have pretty unique communications needs. They need to be able and receive outside calls from any of hundreds of phones, as well as communicating between any two phones at any time.
If you’ve shopped around for phone service, you’ve probably seen the term “SIP trunking” thrown around, but you might not have known what it meant or how it differs from the phone system that’s been in your hotel for decades. So we thought we’d clear that up!
What is SIP Trunking?
SIP Trunking stands for Session Initiation Protocol Trunking, and refers to phone systems that send their data — your voice, fax data, and anything else that traditionally goes through phone lines — over the internet.
In large businesses, hotels, hospitals, and the like, SIP trunking is paired with an IP-enabled PBX (private branch exchange), which allows all of the phone lines in a big building to run through a central hub.
SIP Trunking vs Traditional Phones
The old phone system that’s been around for decades is called the PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network. The PSTN is the network of physical copper wires that runs all over the country, ending in that little four-pin plug at the back of your phone. There are hundreds of millions of such phone lines in the US, but they have a major limitation: there has to be a physical connection between two points for a call to go through.
SIP trunks are virtual phone lines. Rather than plugging into a physical network, they transmit data over the internet to anyone with a phone number. Rather than a physical connection (called a circuit switched network), SIP trunking uses a packet switch network, where data is sent in packets to its destination.
Another huge advantage of SIP trunking is bandwidth. While a PSTN phone line can only carry one channel at a time — remember when you were a kid and you could listen in on a phone conversation by picking up a different phone in the other room? — a SIP trunk can carry an unlimited number of simultaneous lines, as long as the bandwidth allows.
Think of it like pieces of several different puzzles. Your voice is broken down into individual pieces called packets. Imagine those packets are blue puzzle pieces. Another phone line on the same trunk uses red pieces. Both red and blue puzzle pieces can be sent simultaneously, as long as the computer reassembles them correctly at the other end.
Is SIP Trunking the Same as VoIP?
Not exactly. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a broader term, referring to any phone call that’s transmitted over the internet. There are several different protocols and technologies at play in order to send a voice call over the internet, and SIP trunking is one of them.
Why Switch to a SIP System?
SIP trunking PBX systems have increased enormously in popularity over the last decade or so, as broadband internet became cheaper and easier to obtain. So why has the market been so explosive? And what’s in it for you, the hotelier or hotel manager, to make the switch? Here are just a few of the advantages:
- Lower costs — customers who switch from a traditional phone service to a SIP system can save a substantial amount on their communications. Larger hotels that would otherwise need a lot of PRI lines and hotels that place a lot of international calls see even higher savings.
- Hardware freedom — a traditional PRI line needs a physical wire connection. If you want to add a new phone line, you need an electrician to run a wire to that spot. With a SIP system, all you need is an internet-enabled handset and a plug to power it.
- Flexibility — a given phone number is no longer tethered to one desk or one building. With SIP-powered VoIP systems, you can forward calls to other offices, mobile devices, or home phones so that your on-site staff can stay focused on guests’ needs.
- Expanding on demand — adding, moving, and removing phone lines happens almost instantly with a simple software adjustment
- Only one network to manage — with one communications system that handles voice, fax, internet data, screen sharing, and streaming, your IT needs just got a lot easier.
The Phonesuite Difference
At Phonesuite, we’ve installed dedicated hotel VoIP systems in over 5,000 hotels over the last three decades, so we know the industry and the technology inside and out. In fact, it’s all we do! Phonesuite integrates into your existing infrastructure for an affordable monthly fee, rather than a substantial upfront cost.
If you’ve been looking to upgrade your phone system, get in touch with Phonesuite! We’ll assess your hotel’s communication needs and capabilities and let you know if a VoIP PBX system is right for you.