10 questions to ask before you appoint a new SIP supplier

There’s growing pressure from VISA, MasterCard and AMEX for Merchants to become PCI compliant, and the uptake and popularity of SIP trunks is also increasing. But if you’re considering appointing a new SIP supplier  how do you make sure you get the best? In this blog post I suggest 10 questions that you should ask of any potential SIP trunk provider.

  1. Can your provider supply SIP over private circuits as well as over the public internet? As your voice traffic grows you may wish to route traffic through dedicated leased lines and support Quality Of Service so you need to ensure that this is something that your SIP provider can support.
  2. Can your provider support SIP fail-over to PSTN? Although leased lines are generally very reliable it is still important to have a fallback position and fail-over to PSTN offers a very good backup, and can also be useful should you use a third party for disaster recovery.
  3. Has your provider a comprehensive reporting portal? This question is often overlooked. Many providers only provide a bill and a summary of calls, giving you with little in the way of useful reports and information. Do not under estimate the power and usefulness of reporting to help you understand your business and make sure any potential supplier is able to demo a comprehensive reporting facility.
  4. Can your supplier port numbers? This is not something that any provider likes to do and has additional complexity around fault finding, however if your number is essential then porting is really the only viable option so the question needs to be asked.
  5. Can your supplier provide intelligent CLI replacement? Again, this question is often overlooked, but if your supplier can present a CLI (connected line identification) based on the dialed destination or the dialling agent then this allows your contact center to display a CLI of choice, meaning that you can display a local number irrespective of where your agent has dialed from, even if they’ve dialed from overseas.
  6. Can your supplier provide virtual geographic and non-geographic numbers? These days with SIP all providers should be able to provide a full range of virtual geographic and non-geographic numbers, so your numbers are not restricted to the local exchange to which you are connected.
  7. Can your supplier provide a SIP-ISDN gateway so your telephone system does not need to support SIP natively, and is the gateway PCI DSS compliant? A SIP-ISDN gateway can be an inexpensive way to utilise SIP without an expensive upgrade to your existing telephone system, but if you’re considering going down this route you need to ensure that the supplied gateway is PCI DSS compliant.
  8. Can your provider support SIP encryption? Many SIP calls are delivered over the public internet so this is a good option to have if your supplier supports it as it gives you additional security and peace of mind.
  9. Does your provider charge you per SIP channel? As customers are used to paying rental for ISDN lines some providers take the opportunity to charge for SIP trunks, so you end up paying even when SIP lines are not being used. Not all suppliers do this so it’s well worth asking the question. 
  10. Is your SIP provider PCI DSS compliant and are they able to provide SIP trunks suitable for taking payments over the phone? If you don’t check this out in advance then it could cause a major headache down the line. If you currently take card payments or there’s any chance that you might start taking them in the future then your SIP provider MUST have a PCI solution available (or you will be going through the same process again). This is particularly important as you’ll be tied into a contract for at least 12 and perhaps as many as 36 months, so making sure you have a PCI compliant solution now will help prevent major problems for your business down the line. 
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