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In order to evaluate Session Initiation Protocol services, start with a statement of need that includes the number of concurrent users to support, short- and long-term pricing, availability requirements, management and features. The best evaluations all start with a clearly defined set of requirements and goals.
Next, figure out if you want to use a managed service or host your own SIP service and equipment. If you aren't skilled in the administration of a voice system, knowledge transfer will be a must. Also, play with the system first and kick the tires, so to speak. This may spark further questions prior to purchase. In many cases, you can find online documentation of SIP services for review.
How SIP services will be set up is important, and you must decide who is responsible for the setup of the equipment and services during a SIP deployment. If you are using an outsourced service, this step may not be a consideration. If you expect more advanced capabilities, such as voice and video, you may have more intricate and time-consuming setup requirements.
Determine the network requirements for SIP services. You can't assume your network can handle the traffic. Most providers have a calculator to give you an idea of bandwidth requirements. The last thing you want to do is purchase a system and then realize your circuits and equipment are incapable of supporting the traffic. Most SIP services offer a trial period. I suggest testing sample calls internally and externally.
Lastly, look at integrations and other features available with SIP services. Test or get a demo of the computer-telephony integration and see what other applications SIP providers support. Check the encryption capabilities, as well. SIP is pretty simple, as it only provides basic functions. The beauty of SIP is what can be built around it using these simple functions.
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