What is SIP?

Author: Meghan Kennelly


There are many terms used to describe conference equipment capabilities - USB, VoIP, SIP, NFC and so on. It can be hard to determine the difference between them, the purpose they serve and their benefits. In this guide, we'll talk about SIP communications, what it is, how it works, and why you may look to incorporate it into your conference rooms.
 
Before we dive in, let's travel back in time to when organizations had to manage two networks - one for their telephones and one for data. They both had different wiring and associated hardware switches that were specific to each network. Sounds fun!
 
The telephone lines were limited in functionality, so when the time came when more data, information and services were needed, proprietary telephone networks emereged. These allowed for things like conferencing, but the downside was their proprietary nature still required two networks to manage, two sets of wires, etc.
 
After all of that, this great new tool came out in the late 90s, called SIP.
 

So, what is SIP?

SIP, short for Session Initiation Protocol, uses a data network instead of propriety networks to enable even more services, information and ONE network for IT to manage.
 

How does SIP work?

SIP essentially sets up a connection between two end points. Whereas a normal phone using a circuit can establish a connection for voice, music, fax or even a PC modem, SIP takes it to the next level having a multi-media connection. SIP functions can extend a connection to locate and identify a device, know if a user is available or busy, transfer a call, and more!
 

Benefits of SIP

  • One network to manage: As we discussed above, having one network that IT can manage vs. two completely separate networks and managing teams makes life a lot easier. 
 
  • Services: There are thousands of services for SIP that gives you the ability to customize and use what is best for your organization.
 
  • Lines live on the phone: Back in the days of separate telephone networks and proprietary lines, a telephone number lived within an outlet. Now with SIP, the number lives on the phone/device. If you move your desk, IT doesn't have to manually switch a network line, you simply take your phone and plug it in, keeping your same phone number.
 
  • Equipment costs: The software behind SIP lives on a computer more or less. If something breaks, the cost to replace the computer is much more minimal than it would be if you had to replace an entire switch.


What is the difference between SIP & VoIP?

SIP & VoIP are two terms that are commonly used interchangeably, which can cause confusion. VoIP is essentially just a term for anything that sends voice data (a video conference you take at home for example) - there is no technical spec behind it. SIP however, does have a tech specification for any kind of data that goes over the network.
 

Pro Tips

If you are using SIP or think SIP may be a good addition to your conference gear, here's a few tips to keep in mind. Insure that the device (for example, a conference phone) you select works with your environment (for example, a Cisco Call Manager). Secondly, get the support from the IT department. They own the keys to the network and you need to work closely with them for success. Lastly, take a look at Yamaha’s SIP enabled devices!