VoIP vs SIP – What’s the Difference? Which is Best?

With the majority of the workforce now working from home, it’s becoming crucial to implement business communications systems that can effectively support this new mode of operations.

Increasingly, businesses are switching from traditional phone lines to softphones or internet-based phone systems, all thanks to the ease-of-use and a wide set of features that come with these modern business phone systems. 

Many organisations that haven’t switched to internet-based phone systems yet can benefit from adapting a Unified Communications approach. But it can often be confusing for decision makers to evaluate their choices when they come across complex terminologies like VoIP and SIP.

If you’re exploring internet-based business phone systems and wondering what’s VoIP and SIP (or how do they stack against each other), you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we share, in simple terms, what are the differences, pros, and cons of VoIP vs SIP, and which option will suit your needs best.

VoIP and SIP - What Do They Mean?

To learn the difference between VoIP and SIP, it’s essential to understand that comparing VoIP vs SIP is technically ineffective. The terms VoIP and SIP are referring to totally different but closely related things. So, firstly, let’s have a look at each of them separately.

What is VoIP?

Voice Over IP (VoIP) or internet telephony, refers to the technology that’s used to establish voice communication via the Internet.

What is SIP?

SIP (or Session Initiation Protocol) isn’t a service but just one of the widely used protocols that are implemented to establish and facilitate VoIP communications. So, SIP is not an alternative to VoIP, but instead it’s utilised within VoIP technology (as a subset). However, it’s also important to note that not all kinds of VoIP systems make use of SIP.

What is SIP Trunking?

If you remember how trunks were used with traditional landline telephones for giving multiple users access to a single telephone line, then you will realise SIP trunking is like a modern, Internet version of traditional trunking. For setting up on-premises or hybrid VoIP phone systems, especially if you are a business with remote employees, making use of an SIP trunking system is essential. If you are planning to use a fully hosted cloud-based VoIP phone system, chances are it will already come loaded with SIP trunking.

VoIP and SIP - How Do They Work Together?

SIP and VoIP overlap each other. SIP telephones, or “softphones” as they are often called, connect multiple devices to a VoIP network. By employing a single phone number across multiple devices, softphones free up phone numbers from the commitment to a single device.

When VoIP and SIP work together, it allows companies to integrate multiple technologies and cloud-based applications via the Unified Communications (UC) interface. This way, SIP can support VoIP to go beyond just voice-based communication, and let the users consolidate administrative tasks associated with video, voice, and instant messaging, such as customer relationship management (CRM).

However, if you’re interested in evaluating closely your options with regards to VoIP and SIP, it’s wisest to look at the pros and cons of business phone systems which support just voice-only communications (VoIP-only) vs. multimedia and multi-channel communications (VoIP with SIP), considering you can’t make any direct comparisons between VoIP and SIP.

VoIP-only

Pros

  • Low initial investment
  • No need for on-site installation
  • No need to sign up for long-term service contracts

Cons

  • Lacks support for multimedia and multi-channel communications
  • Limited only to a few basic call management features (like caller ID, call forwarding, and call waiting)

VoIP with SIP

Pros

  • Offers plenty of call management features
  • Provides access to features like virtual video conferencing, file sharing, and other forms of business communication
  • Lets you add extra phone lines or change configuration using the administrative tools as needed
  • Allows integration with common cloud-based business applications and software systems for improved productivity
  • Offers greater control over features, customisation, and security
  • Gives access to a hybrid unified communication system
  • Helps achieve long-term cost savings

Cons

  • Most service providers require long-term contracts
  • The quality of service may vary a lot, depending on the service provider
  • Requires on-site installation and extra investment, depending on the requirements
  • Requires a separate, dedicated fibre-optic internet connection to avoid quality and security issues

VoIP-only vs VoIP with SIP - Which One's Better for Your Business?

Needless to say, VoIP-only phone systems can be highly accessible and flexible, making them a decent cost-effective option for most modern small businesses that are just starting out. On the other hand, VoIP with SIP may suit the kind of businesses that are scaling their operations and want more control over their communication systems, instead of using a basic, voice-only business phone system with a limited set of features. So, if a hosted VoIP-only service doesn’t seem to meet your business needs, then opting for VoIP with SIP trunking is the obvious choice.

Final Thoughts

Businesses that choose to go directly with a Unified Communications system (something like VoIP with SIP) can improve their team’s productivity significantly and also incur cost savings. If your organisation is already using multiple cloud-based applications for productivity and online collaboration, you might need something more sophisticated than a voice-only VoIP solution.

To learn more about what kind of business phone systems could be most suitable for your needs, contact our team of VoIP telephony experts today!

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