When shopping for a service, it helps to know the lingo. Technical jargon can leave the average consumer confused and feeling like they are being taken advantage of. For example, SIP Trunking can be very helpful for businesses; however, the dense language can often leave shoppers feeling alienated and uninterested. To combat this, we’ve put together fifteen important definitions regarding SIP Trunking that can make you feel comfortable and empowered when shopping for a SIP Trunking Provider.

1. Address of Record (AOR)
Frequently thought of as the “public address” of the user, the AOR is a SIP URI that points to a domain with a location service that can map two URIs. Your AOR unifies all of your devices, including fax and instant messenger, and makes it possible for multiple phones to ring at once when people call you. Using a SIP address, you won’t have to memorize any phone numbers or email addresses, it will integrate seamlessly into your contact list.

2. Bursting
Bursting refers to temporarily going over your agreed-upon limit. In a traditional telephony environment, if your circuits were busy, there was nothing you could do. With SIP trunking, although you have a service contract for a certain number of trunks, the actual number of trunks is much greater, in fact in theory, it could be unlimited. You can maintain business uptime and service your customers at peak times. When shopping for a SIP trunking provider, be sure and ask about bursting, and how much it may cost you if you use it.

3. Dial Plan
A dial plan is the way in which calls go through to extensions. Typically, you might dial 101 to get extension 101, but you can also configure your dial plan to call 102 if no one at extension answers. You can configure a dial plan to be more complicated and have more steps if you like. Different providers have different kinds control panels to set up a dial plan, and some are more visual while others rely on text.

4. Extension
An extension is usually thought of as the four digit code that connect phones within a building. Within the PBX, you may call 0001, while outside callers call 555-0001. Sometimes you need to dial 9 to go outside the PBX. Note that in the world of SIP trunking, you can connect extensions throughout different buildings within the same PBX. Extensions and speed dials make it easy to connect to your colleagues by pressing fewer buttons.

5. Failover
No technology is 100% foolproof. A failover is a set of protocols in place for when the system goes down. In many cases, calls are forwarded to cell phones or legacy phones. Be sure to ask any potential provider what measures kick in automatically if your network is unavailable.

6. High Availability
This term refers to a system that has a high amount of uptime, meaning also that it is up and running and providing service. There are several points at which any system can fail, which is why SIP trunking has many redundancies to prevent a single point of failure bringing down the whole system.

7. Integrated Voice & Data Solution
Also called “bundling,” some Internet providers are also SIP providers. In some cases, you can save money by getting your Internet (data) and voice (SIP) through one provider.

8. Interoperability
Because components –the internal IP PBX, the edge devices, the Internet Telephone Service Provider) and come from different vendors, it is possible that a component will not be compatible with another, and will not function. To combat this, vendors have certifications, standards, and pledges. When shopping around for a SIP trunk provider, be sure to ask about interoperability, and what steps they will take if their service does not work.

9. Peer-to-peer SIP
A connection (call) that takes place between two SIP user agents, rather than need a third element to connect them. With P2P SIP technology, calling is much simpler and consequently less expensive, which is a good reason to switch to SIP trunking over PSTN.

10. Points of Presence
Traditionally, businesses had one telephone number with a local area code. With SIP, you can have several “local” numbers throughout the country. Having local calls is an alternative to toll-free numbers. Your customers will save money compared to calling long distance, and you will have the appearance of being a local business.

11. Provisioning
Provision is a technical term that means, essentially, to activate. With SIP, you can deploy multiple phones at once through a process called “Auto Provisioning.” If you or your IT team knows how to autoprovision phones, it gives you more options as to which phones to buy; generally phones that you get from your provider come provisioned, but they may be more expensive than other options.

12. Proxy Server:
A SIP Proxy routes SIP requests (phone calls) to the user’s location, and executes call-routing policies and provides the features you expect from SIP trunking.

13. Scalability
Scalability refers to how easily you can grow or shrink your telephony needs. SIP trunking has easier scalability than traditional PBX systems, because you had to buy or lease specific hardware called a PRI that had increments of 24. SIP trunking grows and shrinks with your needs. This is one of the biggest reasons that SIP trunking is a better choice than relying on older systems.

14. Service Level Agreement (SLA)
This is a guarantee put to paper. If the service is unavailable for an extended period of time, you will get a credit of refund. Many SLAs guarantee 99.9% uptime, the most robust networks have an SLA of up to 99.999% uptime. Note that there is an exception in SLAs for planned maintenance. An SLA is the mark of confidence that a SIP trunk provider has in its network. It is in their interest to give you service 100% of the time, otherwise they will lose money. While many companies’ networks have excellent reliability, the SLA is a way for companies to put their money where their mouth is.

15: Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN refers to a network that sends data over the public Internet, but it is encrypted. The network is not technically private, but because of the encryption it is “virtually private.” The data is only accessible within your network. Be sure and ask about the safety and security of any network before you subscribe to a SIP trunking provider.

When shopping for the right SIP trunking provider, it’s important that you know technical terms so that you understand what you will be doing. SIP trunking offers users a number of advantages–namely cost efficiency as it is a great way to save money while not sinking the cost of your existing PBX system. Once you know these terms, you’ll be able to make the best decision regarding your business solution.