Session Initiation Protocol or SIP, can be described as a combination of an analog and VoIP phone system that has more capability than both.  Rather than routing calls over a traditional phone network, it routes them via the internet.  Unlike the International Telephony Union’s IP telephony standard, SIP does not rely on the network transport protocol that lies between an application layer and the internet.  Instead, it is similar to the web’s HTTP and the email system’s SMTP and functions at the application level, a level that makes sure communications are possible.  SIP is not tied a single medium, therefore it has the ability support multiple sessions with voice, data, video or web-based content.

The abilities of SIP are its greatest attribute.  Since the technology is compatible with a variety of other protocols, it can not only redirect, but assure the integrity of content while allowing users to  communicate from practically anywhere.  As a completely independent protocol, it is capable of hosting a range of services such as telephony, instant messaging, internal phone networks and conference calls.

What SIP Means to You

The advantage of using SIP-enabled phones is closely tied with the benefits of IP telephony in general.  Internet calls are incredibly cheap in comparison to traditional and mobile phones calls, giving you the power to cut the price of your communications by half and sometimes more.  SIP provides all the services you would expect from a normal phone system and more as it works seamlessly with other SIP-enabled phones and servers that offer additional functionality.  Some of the added features include soft keys, programmable function keys, customizable ring volumes, hands-free capability and much more.  To experience the best of an SIP phone, the device may need to be connected to a network system such as the Ericsson Enterprise Multimedia Server.

Products such as the Avaya IP Office Server are capable of supporting telephony, voice messaging and conferencing and also provide a robust customer support suite.  This SIP-enabled server offers multiple site hot desking and also works with analogue, digital and PABX phone systems.  It is very scalable, able to support anywhere from two to over 300 users.  Cisco, one of the leading providers in conferencing technology, has used SIP for its wide selection of audio and video conferencing products.  Ericsson is another prominent company that harnesses the power of this unique protocol.

The Beauty of SIP

Borrowing the cost-efficiency of VoIP telephony and boasting flexibility that enables the easy integration of various applications and protocols, SIP has come into its own as a viable telephony alternative. While the technology isn’t flawless, it is very efficient and growing increasingly popular in the corporate and home setting.