What are PRI and SIP trunking? How are they different? Which one can offer more benefits for your business? In this post, we will try to answer all of these questions and help you make the right choice.

What are these two services?

If we put it simply, PRI and SIP trunking are two ways of connecting your business to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) via a Private Branch Exchange (PBX). While PRI represents a physical connection, SIP trunking is a virtual one, which is applied on top of the existing data connection network within your organization.

What is SIP trunking exactly?

SIP trunking (also referred to as termination) is a VoIP service that allows you to send calls through a carrier’s network. The letters stand for Session Initiation Protocol and represent a packet-switched technology. The latter means that small units of data – packets – are sent through the network and do not prevent other packets from entering the channel at the same time. Most Internet traffic is sent using packet-switched technology.

What is PRI?

PRI, or Primary Rate Interface, is a physical connection between your business and the PSTN. PRI is a circuit-switched technology, which means that a physical path is reserved for the entire duration of a certain connection between two end points and no other data can be sent along this path while it is in use.

What are the main differences for businesses?

PRI is a physical telephone line (T1 with 23 channels or E1 with 32 channels), which enables you to have 23 or 32 simultaneous calls respectively. Even if you use 100 phone numbers within your company, your employees will be able to have only a pre-defined number of connections at the same time. If your call volume is larger and you face the need to increase the capacity, you will have to purchase an additional phone line with 23 or 32 more channels. Ironically, even if you need only 1 channel more, it will still require an entire new line.

The use of PRIs is related to high costs – they’re charged per circuit on a monthly basis. Installation of every line takes 2 to 3 weeks and requires special (and quite expensive!) termination equipment, such as a PRI interface card, to be plugged into your telephony system. While the line is not in use, it cannot be applied for other purposes. Moreover, it is capable of carrying only voice data.

SIP trunking on the other hand is a versatile technology that can be aligned with your specific business needs. Its capacity depends only on the amount of bandwidth available and can be extended to accommodate an unlimited number of connections. Extra capacity can be easily purchased by phone and will take only a couple of hours to set up.

Unlike PRIs, SIP trunks are not stagnant: when they’re not used, the corresponding bandwidth can be applied for other purposes.

The winner of the competition is obvious, don’t you think? While PRIs have their benefits such as a guaranteed call quality, they’re a thing of the past now. The world is switching to virtual services to reduce costs and increase communication efficiency. If you too want to boost the competitive edge of your business, it’s time to take a closer look at our wholesale SIP trunking services. They might just save you thousands of dollars!