Difference Between PRI vs SIP

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When it comes to phone systems to use in your business, your choices will be based on two categories — the Session Initiation Protocol, which is associated with the delivery of Voice-Over-IP (VoIP). Then there is the Primary Rate Interface (PRI) that handles the traditional telephony systems.

Companies have realized that they need to cut production costs while also increasing productivity in all areas, including communications. Hence, they are using cloud-based communication tools, and this has seen many of them switch from PRI phone systems to SIP. Even then, some organizations do not want to make the transition, and others opt to use hybrid solutions that offer the best of both worlds in one telephony system.

In principle, SIP and PRI phones have a similar core purpose. They are designed to allow workers in an organization to make and receive business calls.

PRI vs SIP: What Is The Difference?

It is a question that seeks to determine which of the two are the best for your company needs. Both SIP and PRI are trunking systems. But with of the two is the best? To answer this question, we need to deliver deeper and explore how the PRI and SIP phone services work. It is then you will better understand the two technologies and determine with fits your needs best.

What Is PRI Phone Service?

PRI (Primary Rate Interface) has been around for over four decades and used to support voice communication. It is a T-1 transmission technology with an interface used to handle multiple voice lines and data running through copper wires which are integrated into a building’s infrastructure.

The interface has 23 voice channels that support 23 calls concurrently and a single channel dedicated to call-related functions such as caller ID. All the voice calls running through the PRI system are submitted as electrical pulses. They are routed through traditional telephony communications carriers. Such a phone system rely on the services of a telecommunications company that will provide support for on-site servicing of the phone cabling to upgrade and repair the telephony equipment.

It suffices to regard PRI as the forebearer of the SIP phone system. It is, thus, the alternative to the IP-based telephony technology.

The Advantages Of Using PRI

  • It does not depend on data bandwidth to support the delivery of voice calls.
  • It provides high-quality voice call services via dedicated phone lines and telephony structures.
  • PRI can be made redundant by adding another PRI circuit for failover.

The Pitfalls Of Using PRI

  • It is costly to implement, upgrade and has high monthly phone service rates.
  • Most of the services are available as long-term contracts with conventional telecom companies that offer services that support local and long-distance calls.
  • PRI requires a dedicated capacity that is only available in the form of 23-line units.
  • It is slow to modify or scale up its infrastructure; the process can take weeks to complete.

Best Examples Of The Uses Of PRI Technology

In most case, the businesses that still rely on the traditional PRI telecom infrastructure have limited access to fiber-optic internet connectivity. Subsequently, they also will have insufficient bandwidth for their IP-based phones.

Some organization will look to hybrid PRI systems that also including SIP trunking protocols. As such, they can use their PRI telecom tech for local calls and rely on the SIP technology for their multimedia communications. With hybrid system allows them to have faster and cost-effective support for international (long-distance) calls.

What Is SIP Phone Service?

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is a telecommunications technology that supports voice-over-IP calls. It is a trunking system that initiates and ends calls made over VoIP lines to a phone number. The system supports the transmission of voice calls as well as other kinds of multimedia communications in the form of data. In principle, it is a telephony technology, but SIP also supports the sending of Unified Communications, which includes SMS, MMS, video calls, and more.

For businesses that rely on hosted telecommunications under SIP technology, the telecom services vendor host manages and maintains the trunking equipment for the transmission of the call data. SIP is the modern alternative to the traditional PRI phone system. It, thus, takes away the need for the conventional telephony infrastructure that relies on physical phone lines and circuits.

The Rewards Of Using SIP

  • It most is available per channel and on an on-demand basis; you can pay for the channel capacity you need.
  • The cost saving of SIP may vary, but it is a telephony system that far cheaper compared to PRI trunking, but nearly 30% to 40%.
  • SIP has administrative portals that are easy to use and manage.
  • It offers the organization a failover for mobile phones in the event of unexpected loss of data connectivity.
  • The vendors offer ample support that includes remote workers for multiple sites.
  • The service includes different mobile features and some of the latest mobile applications and designs.
  • PRI can be integrated into SIP to form a hybrid phone system that offers the best of both worlds.

The Drawbacks Of Using Of SIP

  • It requires reliable internet bandwidth via a fibre network that will support the delivery of quality services.
  • SIP also needs adequate security for the network data. The security includes things such as firewalls that will help safeguard the communications data from cybercriminals.
  • The extensibility and quality of the SIP service provided by the hosted VoIP vendor vary significantly.

Best Examples Of The Use Of SIP Technology

Organizations can save money on business call services, especially for their international (long-distance) calls. Moreover, they can lower the costs of support for the maintenance of the contact centres; this is thanks to the remote workers and the mobility features synonymous with the SIP phone system.

The SIP vendors that offer hosted VoIP services can provide IT support personnel to aid with the maintenance of the communication systems. Alternatively, the company can hire the IT professional it needs for this. With SIP, businesses can embrace and utilize multi-channel cloud communications and even Unified Communications. Furthermore, it is easier for the company to scale up its communications systems when need be.

Which Is Best for My Business?

The two systems are competing for telephony technologies with distinct benefits and disadvantages. For many businesses, SIP trunking is the smart choice for their telecommunications include UCaaS or VoIP services. It allows them to have access to vital, cost-saving, and collaborative tools that enhance dependability.

For other companies, the hybrid PRI phone system is a cheaper and viable option. It offers unified communications with traditional communications technology with some adequate data recovery planning thanks to the SIP protocols. Some organizations may still find the conventional PRI phone services a fitting choice for their operations.

Head-to-Head: PRI vs SIP on 4 Key Business Considerations

1. Cost

For many businesses, SIP is the cheaper and more effective option compared to PRI. However, the matter of cost is not the only significant factor that influences the choice of these organizations when investing in phone systems. The companies also take into account the possible need to scale their operations in the future, to add or remove some features or to be able to make long-distance calls.

In some instance, the use of PRI phone systems may prevail, such as in the case of the small brick-and-mortar organizations that have limited resources and have no need for advanced telecommunications features. The companies are not keen on expanding their communications or adopting different technologies for their telephony needs; as such, PRI systems will suffice.

SIP trunking will be the smartest option between the two modern businesses that cannot do without dependable telecommunications support.

2. Information Security

While PRI may be viewed as more secure, this may not be entirely accurate. It relies on copper cables that are often associated with different information security risks and concerns. Its counterpart, the SIP technology, also does have its pitfalls. Businesses that do not have on-site data security support to help secure their information network and try to use consumer-class VoIP when using public internet access will be vulnerable to some security risks.

But comparatively, SIP offers adequate network security with superior efficiency than PRI.

3. Flexibility

Interestingly, the most significant drawback for PRI is SIP’s greatest advantage; the matter in question is that of scalability and flexibility. For the case of PRI, scaling will require additional user capacity. As for SIP, companies can scale up or down based on their needs, and these can be temporary updates. As such, the businesses can pay for only what they need and use. The same cannot be said of the PRI systems, which will at times have a waiting period for a technician to come and upgrade the infrastructure at a substantially higher cost.

Given the above facts, SIP back the win as the most suitable telecommunications option for organizations today.

4. Reliability

The copper cabling used as an essential part of the PRI infrastructure is prone to damage and faces various risks that include inclement weather, general degradation, and vandalism. It may look like a reliable technology, but it has a significant probability of loss of access to phone services if the infrastructure gets damaged.

As for SIP, companies can liaise with reliable telecom vendors for fibre-optic internet connectivity services. Such connectivity is not prone to inclement weather and some of the standard risks of damage. It offers mobile failover; thus, businesses can have dedicated phone lines that they can use even during loss of data connectivity.

As such, SIP is the ideal choice if you are keen on getting reliable telecommunications systems for your company. But even then, the hybrid system may also be a viable option.

PRI vs SIP: The Verdict

Both PRI and SIP are formidable foes that businesses require for telephony needs. Therefore, deciding which of the two is the best choice is a matter that boils down to your goals and needs. If your organization eyes upscaling to the next-generation communications (UCaaS and VoIP) and the latest collaboration features, then SIP is the way to go. It also supports your efforts to cut costs and have better business agility and realize value for your communications systems. As for PRI, it may be an ideal option for a select few organizations; and for some, the hybrid system will suffice.