Over the Top vs. Single Solution SIP Trunk Providers

This is our 4th of 12 blogs on the subject of SIP Trunks. Subscribe in the box to the right to receive an email notification for each one in the series.

SIP Trunking: Single Solution or Over The Top (OTT) Provider

Today’s discussion about the two different types of SIP Trunk vendors and why it’s important that you know the facts. This is an area where some sales people put a heavy spin on their superior advantages, but the educated buyer (you, after reading this document!) will be able to “cut through the crap.” First a bit in the way of definitions:

Single Solution Provider: A single solution SIP Trunk provider delivers both the data circuit and the SIP Trunks.

Over The Top (OTT): This is a phrase that got started with data carriers and companies, like Netflix, who stream movies over the Internet. The carrier provides access to the Internet and the content provider streams the movie over that circuit. So, two different providers, providing two different services. In the SIP Trunking world, an Over the Top (OTT) provider delivers SIP Trunking over a separate data carrier’s circuit. So, is there a superior solution? No, just like most things in life, there are benefits and weaknesses to both models – otherwise, in a competitive world, they wouldn’t co-exist. Once again, the right solution will be different depending upon your circumstances. Just beware that the single solution locks you down tighter, but oddly that sometimes comforts “C” level folks, especially when it’s well-advertised brand.

Single Solution Sales Points

One Monthly Bill: This is true for most providers but not all providers. Anybody who has AT&T service understands this.

No Finger Pointing: If it’s a circuit or a SIP Trunk issue, you only need to contact one company. The old (now) proverbial “one throat to choke”.

Bundled Pricing: Some providers provide a bundled discount if you buy both the circuit and SIP Trunking from them.

Higher Quality: Since everything goes through the same company, VoIP quality is under their complete control with the result being superior quality, versus putting one company’s service on top of another company’s circuit.

OTT Solution Sales Points

Best of Breed Providers: Dedicated data carriers do Internet service best. SIP Trunk providers specialize in this particular service. No one vendor is superior with both. If they were, the competition would evaporate. It’s a matter of specialization versus one-size-fits-all. The average phone company today provides MPLS, T1, fiber, email, cloud services, data backup, security and on – they are truly generalists.

Pricing Advantages: Particularly in the area of data circuits, prices and coverage varies widely and you can only find the best provider if you can shop the entire market. The same holds true for SIP Trunking providers.

Changing Your Data Carrier: You will have to dump your existing carrier and replace them with a new single solution provider – unless, of course, you purchase SIP Trunking from your existing provider.

Vendor Lock-In: What if you dislike one of the services? Well, you are stuck with them unless you want to make a complete change. In an OTT environment, you just boot the offending service provider, while keeping the service that is working well.

Finger Pointing Addressed: Theoretically speaking, working with a single solution provider means that you are working with one cohesive entity. The fact is that services are delivered by different divisions. They may work together seamlessly or they may be a bureaucratic nightmare. For the majority of SIP Trunking service issues, it is very apparent what service is not working correctly. Finally, all companies wish to provide quality service to retain their customers, it’s not the exclusive domain of a company that provides multiple solutions.

Quality Issue Addressed: Single solution providers heartily tout their “total control of the entire network” advantage. It is true, but only as long as the phone call remains on their network. And the last I checked there are hundreds of data providers in the U.S. The chance of you making an outside call that remains on a particular provider’s network all the way to the other side is infinitely small.

Resiliency: This is an area where the ability to hand choose Internet providers is a big plus. An all-in-one provider can offer two separate circuits providing redundancy. However, their resiliency capabilities are pretty weak. The circuits are both from the same provider and most times on the same infrastructure. With an OTT solution, the ideal situation is to have two different providers and most importantly, two different media.

Oh boy, “media”, just what you need is another new term. In the networking world, media refers to the physical conduit down which your voice and data travels. Common media are copper, fiber, wireless and cable. These different media take different geographic paths and require separate cables to reach your office (wireless uses “air” as the media). For maximum resiliency, a company should deploy carriers using two different media. There is no single company that can provide a rock solid resilient network while a multiple-carrier solution inherently provides it.

Over the Top vs. Single Solution SIP Trunk Providers Summary

Single solution providers are quite appealing to smaller customers who want simplicity and want everything delivered by one company while OTT solutions provide a more robust, resilient best-of-breed approach favored by larger organizations.

In my next blog in this series, I take a look at the various types of circuits suitable for SIP Trunking. Be sure to tune in for this important info!

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