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What Are SIP Softphones – And Why Are They Important?

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SIP softphones aren’t a new type of technology. They’ve been around for well over a decade by now. But the term is becoming popular now that many Softphone business benefits are emerging, steadily encouraging more organizations to upgrade their communications systems.

Today – high-quality communications are the standard. Whether you’re a business or an individual, you expect nothing but the best when making a call. Many companies are turning to Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) softphones and apps to accomplish this.

What Are SIP Softphones?

SIP technology uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to deliver multimedia-rich real-time communication from anywhere in the world.

That’s a lot of buzzwords – so let’s make it even easier.

That old phone you used nearly 15-20 years ago could make calls, maybe it had voicemail if you paid for it, and caller display. You also had to pay an insane amount of money to make long-distance calls. It was pretty basic and couldn’t do much.

What about today?

Your smartphone is a sophisticated device that uses your Internet connection to seamlessly integrate web, email, instant messaging, and other services through your IP network. You can instantaneously call anyone from anywhere in the world for free.

SIP softphones provide the architecture through a platform that makes all of this possible.

Today – everyone is using them. You may not know it, but your phone carrier has one integrated, apps like WhatsApp and Skype are SIP apps, many companies use them for communications, even creating their own custom solution with our white label VoIP softphone Design Tool, and many more are rushing to get their own internal SIP softphones developed.

When Was SIP Technology Invented?

SIP technology was originally invented by Mark Handley, Henning, Schulzrinne, Eve Schooler, and Jonathan Rosenberg in 1996. The technology itself was standardized as RFC 2543.

By 2000, it was accepted as a 3GPP signaling protocol for IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) architecture for IP-based streaming in cellular networks.

While today SIP technology is widely used in the telecom industry, it started as a practical solution for IP-based communications. In the early days, it was used for things like:

  • • Video conferencing
  • • Streaming media
  • • File transfer
  • • Internet fax
  • • Instant messaging
  • • Online gaming

How Do SIP Softphones Work?

Internet telephony has simplified the way we communicate with each other. Long-distance calls are a thing of the past, thanks to the Internet. SIP phones can be implemented as either hardware or as a softphone.

But how does SIP make all of this possible? 

SIP technology acts as a middleman between you (the caller) and the person you are calling. Your SIP app will handle the entire process so long as both parties have access to a stable Internet connection.

Here’s a brief explanation of the process:

  • • You call a friend using your softphone. Just like a normal phone, you’ll hear ringing as you make the call.
  • • Your voice and video are converted into a series of encrypted data packets that are transferred to your recipient. Their softphone app receives the data, instructions on how to access it, and converts it into multimedia that they can hear. This entire process happens in milliseconds.
  • • When the call is terminated, the connection between you and your recipient is terminated as well.

Understanding the Essential Terms for SIP

There are several terms you should know if you want to understand how SIP works. These terms include:

  • • User agents are the endpoints (or any individual that is sending or receiving data). User agent clients (UACs) send requests, while the user agent server (UAS) sends SIP responses to any requests it receives.
  • • Proxy servers act as the middleman between the UAC and UAS. They facilitate the relationship between the two parties by routing, enforcing policies, and determining roles. A proxy server is capable of rewriting data before forwarding it. They can also fork calls (allowing them to ring multiple devices at once).
  • • Registrars are SIP endpoints that provide location service. They can accept register requests, make it possible to locate specific communication peers on the network, and are essential for scaling SIP.
  • • Gateways are an essential part of SIP that allows this technology to interface with existing public switched telephone networks that use different technologies.

How Do I Install a SIP Softphone?

Installing a SIP softphone on your smartphone is an easy process. But finding the right one will depend on your needs.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • • You download the right SIP app on your smartphone or computer
  • • A SIP address is assigned to you based on the SIP app you are using. Most platforms will provide you with one.
  • • The SIP client you’re using needs to be configured before making calls is possible. This app will contain a softphone that includes all of the real-time communication functionality you need.
  • • Make a call to another person’s phone (if you’re connected to the Internet).

There are several options available on the market. Acrobits offers two versions of its own, with Groundwire and Softphone for individuals and Cloud Softphone for the enterprise.

What Are the Advantages of SIP Softphones?

SIP softphones offer many advantages over traditional analog phones. These advantages include:

  • Cost-savings. SIP softphones are typically cheaper, offer you more flexibility, and allow you to take advantage of more features.
  • Make calls from anywhere. You can augment your smartphone using a SIP app. This functionality lets you make calls from anywhere in the world.
  • Feature-rich. SIP apps (like Cloud Softphone) are incredibly feature-rich. You can enhance your real-time communications with whatever features you want.
  • Improved productivity. SIP softphones allow you to offer flexible working conditions for your employees by simplifying communications. SIP technology lets them communicate with other employees, access essential information, and other communications from anywhere.
  • Create your own unified communications platform. Many companies are looking to implement their own Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) platforms. SIP technology is necessary to enable UCaaS.

What Are the Disadvantages of SIP Softphones?

While SIP technology is great, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of. These disadvantages include:

  • • Requiring a dedicated Internet connection. VoIP technology requires a dedicated Internet or wireless connection to run. You cannot make calls during outages.
  • Expensive to develop. Building your own SIP app internally is expensive. But solutions like Cloud Softphone can bypass this problem entirely by reducing your development costs by up to 90%.

Why Should My Business Switch to VoIP through SIP?

The average VoIP app on the market is capable of making calls but doesn’t do enough to personalize the communications experience.

White-label SIP softphones are capable of personalizing and customizing your real-time communications experience. This means more flexibility, more cost savings, and the ability to include the features that matter the most to you.

The right SIP app will save your business a lot of time and money, improve employee productivity, let you tap into detailed mobile analytics, and provide a seamless communications experience.

Want to learn more about our White-label SIP softphones? Talk to our team today!

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