When it comes to the abundant use of acronyms, the military is probably the only sector which surpasses the technology industry. The acronym we’ll be discussing today is SIP. SIP’s formal name is Session Initiated Protocol, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we need to back up and cover a few basics.
Simply defined, a protocol is a rule. As it relates to the Internet, data transmission, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) think of a protocol as a language. Imagine making a phone call across the world. The receiving party answers in Chinese and you speak English. Unless both parties are speaking the same language, effective communication can’t happen. The same is true for data transmissions across the Internet.
Internet Protocol mandates all devices attempting to communicate across the world wide web speak the same language. That’s where the acronym, IP, comes from. Extrapolating on that basic concept, common logic would then dictate that Voice over IP simply means that voice calls are using the internet protocol to move from one end of the world to the other. Well, kind of.
Voice over IP does mean that voice calls are being made using data networks rather than the traditional telephone networks, but, like most things internet, it goes deeper than that.
SIP is the protocol which allows a voice call to be made on a data network. It establishes the handshake of the call, ensuring that both the caller and receiver are able to connect. Once the SIP connection is established, another protocol, typically RTP, sends the call across the SIP connection.
While the basic idea of SIP probably seems simple enough, there is a lot of complexity when it comes to making calls actually work. With a myriad of Internet Telephony Service Providers now popping up and even more VoIP telephone equipment manufacturers, things can get messy quickly. Unlike data, voice can’t get messy. When voice gets messy, it means dropped calls, static, jitter, delay, and all sorts of other quality problems for you as a caller.
Certification happens at multiple levels and is designed to ensure your equipment and VoIP service providers have gone through the necessary setup and testing processes so that when you make a call it will sound good.
An ITSP or VoIP service provider will use a master voice switch comprised of several servers. This switch is where incoming and outgoing calls are connected and managed. The provider will have several “upstream” lines connected into this switch so calls that come in to the switch can get out to the world. These upstream connections will go through a SIP certification process with the carriers to ensure the switch can successfully establish SIP connections.
The other common area where SIP certification happens is with VoIP equipment manufacturers. N2Net, for example, is SIP certified with several major equipment manufacturers including Toshiba, Altigen, and Digium.
Becoming SIP certified with equipment manufacturers means N2Net has gone through a testing process and has met the equipment manufacturers requirements to use their equipment on the N2Net network.
Being SIP certified means that because (in this example) N2Net has gone through the testing and certification process, they, as the provider, will receive support from the equipment manufacturer should problems arise. Providers who haven’t gone through the certification process wouldn’t receive that support, leaving end user customers vulnerable.
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