Is integrating SBC functionality into the router the way forward for accelerating the availability of SIP trunking services?

Although many businesses have deployed IP-based PBX systems to handle their corporate telephony needs, so far relatively few have then taken the next step to a full SIP trunking service particularly in Europe.

To some extent this can be explained by the “if it is not broken – why fix it” approach but is actually more to do with service providers looking to leverage maximum return from their substantial infrastructure investments and disincentivizing customers who may want to transition from their still lucrative ISDN connections.

However, many companies are now re-assessing the merits of integrating their video, data and voice requirements in a unified communications (UC) package opening up new opportunities as well as challenges for service providers. With many of these enterprises sensibly opting for a phased transition to an all-IP UC platform to avoid potential costly business disruption, CSPs are faced with connecting SIP trunks into an array of IP and legacy PBX and mixed PSTN/IP voice environments.

For Telcos and service providers this means facing an array of non-standard SIP trunk implementations, involving a mix of old and new technologies, that can result in increased operational expenditure combined with reduced revenue potential. Given this double-whammy effect it is understandable why they tend to be less than enthusiastic in actively promoting an end-to-end IP telephony platform. For that reason, TDM trunks has remained the preferred demarcation line of choice for service providers, even though TDM is converted to VoIP within their network.

However, there now seems to be an increasing momentum and growing market demand for SIP trunking services from enterprises. A recent Infonetics1 research report forecasts growth in the business adoption of UC and VoIP services to reach $35bn by 2018. Part of the report showed a massive, 50% increase in SIP trunking in the US in 2013, with similar growth in EMEA expected to follow in 2014 and beyond.

This up-swing is the result of a combination of different commercial and technical factors all leading to an overwhelming business case for change; not least is the acceptance by those still to upgrade their corporate telephony networks that the cost of maintaining legacy systems is set to continue to increase as PBX vendors end-of-life many of their products.

In this complex scenario, our eSBC2 solution (SBC Nano) provides a strong platform for CSPs to enable a painless transition. Regardless of the demarcation line towards the PBX trunk being TDM or SIP-based, the same PBX-agnostic interface is presented to the service provider network.

The mixed PBX SIP trunk interface is transparent to the user and since SBC Nano has proven to be capable of supporting a comprehensive range of networking interconnections and multi-vendor PBX systems it means that OPEX can be more easily kept under control.

A leading Belgian cable operator has led the way for other operators and is enjoying the benefits of deploying the OneAccess integrated CPE/eSBC range as the platform for its new SIP trunking service. Although still in its early roll-out phase, this operator has been signing up new contracts at a rate of over 60 customers per month since it was launched.

The decision to introduce the SIP service was in response to demand from its network of PBX channel partners looking for market differentiation and new revenue streams. OneAccess’ access routers with integrated eSBC functionality was this cable operator ’s preferred choice due the limited requirement for LAN-side adaptations or configurations to add a new PBX, enabling them to rapidly address its channel demand.

With the additional benefit of zero-touch provisioning and easy OSS/BSS integration they have shown that there are no real technical or commercial barriers to an increase in the rate of PSTN to IP transition.

Belgium as a country is well ahead of the game in Europe for ISDN migration and this success has encouraged other players to reassess their positions on SIP trunking as a service; and we have seen the same pattern in neighboring countries where ISDN phase-out is progressing.

With this newly enforced enthusiasm for SIP by the operators combined with the cost benefits to businesses of moving to all-IP communications I am sure we can expect to see a significant increase in new SIP trunking services being introduced across the world in the next 2 to 3 years.

2 Session Border Control