SIP Trunk vs PRI: What's the Difference?

By upgrading your communication phone systems and associated software you’ll help your business stay relevant while providing a better service to your customers. Two of the most commonly-used communication protocols include VoIP delivered over SIP or a PRI phone system.

Both PRI and SIP will serve the same purpose for your business, allowing you to upgrade to a more efficient and scalable business phone system. However, how they go about achieving this service is a bit different.

When it comes to choosing between SIP trunking vs PRI you’ll want to be well educated on both so you can make the best decision for your business.

Learn how SIP and PRI stack up against each other run our SIP trunk vs PRI comparison.

What is SIP?

Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) is used in accordance with an existing VoIP connection. Essentially, it’s a set of technical standards that support VoIP calls and the transmission of data over a VoIP connection.

At the core, it’ll transform your entire cloud network into a telephone system. All calls will take place over the network, instead of traditional telephone lines. Beyond needing VoIP compatible headsets SIP trunks don’t require any additional hardware.

The biggest difference between SIP and PRI is that SIP is a telephony networking protocol, while PRI is a telephone technology in itself.

Pros and Cons of SIP

SIP trunks shine in its simplicity. If your business is already set up with a network phone solution, like VoIP, then setup will be relatively quick and painless. You also have the ability to scale your SIP phone network quickly as your phone demands shift.

However, keep in mind that the quality offered between SIP providers can vary greatly. Do your research and always choose a SIP provider that has a track record of success.

What is PRI?

Primary Rate Interface (PRI) has been used for voice communications for over 40 years now. It’s a telecommunications technology that relies upon physical hardware. For decades it’s been the industry standard for business telephony until cloud providers and voice over network technology came into being.

It uses physical hardware and an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) to deliver multiple lines of voice and data, all through a single physical circuit. These PRI circuits will provide support for up to 23 voice channels, 23 concurrent calls, and a channel for data.

Pros and Cons of PRI

One area where PRI shines is in call quality. Since it doesn’t rely upon a network you don’t have to deal with network issues, bad connection, or packet drops. Usually, the quality of most business network connections won’t cause these issues to arise, but for some businesses, it can be an issue. If you have poor internet access in your area, then using PRI might be your only option.

PRI can also be more secure since it doesn’t rely upon a network connection. By using phone lines you avoid having to do things like setup network firewalls.

However, if you demand scalability from your business phone solution, then you might run into issues. Since PRI relies upon physical infrastructure upgrades can be costly. If you’re growing fast and need to upgrade your system, then this could lead to network outages while this takes place.

Which One is Right for Your Business?

Both SIP trunking and PRI have advantages and disadvantages. There are multiple factors you’ll want to use to evaluate your decision. Overall, it depends on your business requirements, goals, and existing network infrastructure.

Here are a few key considerations you’ll need to answer:

Do you have multiple locations?

SIP is a great fit for a business who have multiple locations. You’ll be able to route calls between different physical locations, no matter who far apart they are, plus you’ll have greater redundancy. PRI is better suited for businesses who only have a single physical location.

How important is call quality?

SIP provides you with decent call quality, but for some businesses, this might not be enough. However, by using PRI you will have a higher quality call and a less chance of a call being dropped.

Are you growing quickly?

SIP is a much better fit for fast-growing businesses. It can be scaled up very rapidly and doesn’t require a huge investment in physical hardware to get started.

Do you have a solid network connection?

SIP is fully reliant on your network connection. So, if your network quality suffers during peak business hours, then you might want to upgrade your connection (if possible) or consider PRI.

There is no best choice when it comes to PRI vs SIP trunking. Instead, it should be the best choice for your business. Take the above questions into account to evaluate your business needs before you make a decision.

Overall, PRI can provide better call quality and is a great choice for companies with weak network connections, or only a single physical connection. While PRI is can work for businesses with multiple locations, who are growing quickly and can rely on their network connection.

When it comes to security, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.

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