PRI, VOIP & SIP: A primer for small business owners
Entrepreneurs: Rethinking your small business’ telecommunications infrastructure? What’s best: tried and true PRI, or new-school VOIP using the SIP protocol, the latest telephone technology has to offer? New-fangled tech isn’t necessarily the best option for your business, said Adam Puckett, director of business development for Frontier IT in Colorado Springs. Just what do these acronyms stand for, and how can you determine the ideal set-up for your business?
First, let’s talk alphabet soup. Here are some plain English definitions, courtesy of Puckett.
PRI: Primary rate interface. “PRI is still based on old telephone company standards,” Puckett said. “When you think of Ma Bell, phone lines and the operator, that’s PRI, that old model. It’s distinct from your data network — strictly a voice channel.”
VOIP: Voice over internet protocol. Think of free, internet-based telephone services like Skype and Vonage, Puckett said.
SIP: Session initiation protocol. “SIP was designed as a full-on replacement for the old switch-circuit telephone networks,” or PRI, Puckett said. “It was built from the ground up on RTP, or real-time protocol. It actually creates a point-to-point, peer-to-peer connection. SIP is the new business-class standard for VOIP.”
Clearly, VOIP using the SIP protocol is the right choice for small businesses, right?
Not necessarily, Puckett cautions.
“PRI is still great,” he said. For instance, PRI might be the right fit for a call center that relies heavily on phones to successfully run its business.
But it might not be best for, say, a small, flexible startup comprised of salespeople who sells steak knives and ShamWows, Puckett added with a laugh.
Just how does one figure out which solution is best for his or her business? Many factors — including how a business brings in revenue, how and how often it interacts with customers, and how many people it employs — play into this determination, Puckett said.
Ain’t nobody got time for that, you might be thinking.
What’s a busy small-business owner to do?
Call an MSP, or managed service provider, Puckett said. MSPs can offer small- to mid-sized businesses the tech services they need — like consulting, help desk support and server/network monitoring — in an affordable, à la carte fashion.
But don’t just call any MSP, Puckett warned.
“Call somebody who can broker different solutions, who isn’t married to a solution,” Puckett advised. “Some MSPs try to put you on on their particular platform. You need someone who works in the best interest of their clients, who can put commission models aside.”
At Frontier IT, “we’re not romantic about a particular solution,” Puckett said. “I’m only romantic about my clients’ best interests, in doing what will help them grow their businesses.”
Interested in finding the perfect telecommunications solution for your business — a system that will allow it to grow and flourish? Contact Frontier IT today. They’d love to chat about how they can partner with you to support your company’s success.