In this whitepaper, we will tackle “How to Buy Wholesale SIP Termination” through strategies and processes. In my experience as VoIP Innovations President, I found that purchasing SIP termination can be time consuming and somewhat risky. There are many different options for providers, agreements that need to be executed, and Interop tests that need to be completed and these are things just to get to the starting line. Placing providers into production with live traffic is when the real fun begins; unprofitable routes, bad routes, 503’s, capacity issues, ASR, and ACD issues, to name a few. I have said it in other articles, “you have to go slow in order to go fast”, which also holds true when selecting a termination provider. The termination provider you choose today will impact your bottom line tomorrow and it’s important to make the right choice.
So how does one go about choosing the right SIP termination partner(s)? There is no single answer, but there are several things you can do to put the odds in your favor. At VoIP Innovations we developed a strategy and process called “RATA”; Researching, Analyzing, Testing, and Accountability. This is not some complicated formula, but rather it’s a simple outline to reduce the risk and time you could spend when choosing a wholesale termination carrier.
The first step to RATA is research and, in my opinion, this is where you win or lose the battle. You can do it the right way or you can do it the wrong way which can result in wasted time and a risk to your reputation. Research is simply trying to weed out the real players from the imposters and finding a balance between cost and quality. In the telecommunications industry any semi-technical person can setup an Asterisk server, purchase wholesale termination services, and call themselves a carrier. This is what we call, “Two Men and a Switch”. To avoid these types of providers, we do our research on each and every potential termination carrier. We will visit their website, go to their social media sites, read their blogs, search for news and awards, and search Google for forum posts about their company. If they pass the sniff test, we will contact them to ask for additional information. This additional information can be found on our “Vendor Qualification Form”. We want to know if they offer a 6 or 7 digit rate deck, if they bill by dialed number or by LRN (local routing number), and what are their billing increments (1/1, 6/6, etc). We also need to know if they run an LCR (least cost route) system, and if they do, how many carriers to they keep in route. The last piece of information we need is how many carriers do you fail before sending a 503? The more info you collect at this stage the better your odds of finding a solid provider will be.
Once they have completed our vendor qualification form and we feel they might be a good fit, we will ask them for a rate deck to analyze. This starts the next part of RATA, which is analyzing. Our engineers run an analysis on their rate deck that compares it to our most recent months CDRs (call detail records). This analysis will provide detailed information on how well this deck would have done had it been in our LCR management system. We are supplied with total routes won, total minutes won, and what our cost saving would be. We have targeted metrics, that if met, we will move onto the testing phase. If the analysis comes back unfavorable, we will send the carrier our termination target rates and ask for another rate deck.
Once the research and analysis is finished, the next step is to test, also called interoperability or interop. This is the act of interconnecting the two switches. Typically the carrier will provide an interop form to complete, which gathers certain switching info, such as an IP Address or CODEC. Once the interconnection has been established, testing can begin. Although there are a number of tests to ensure proper functionality, nothing beat’s live traffic. Unfortunately, if there are issues when using live traffic, your customers can feel the pain.
That leads us into the last part of RATA, accountability. Termination services are not a sticky business so if a provider is not performing, another provider can easily be found and the traffic will be moved. When a new and untested carrier is added, they need to be held accountable for underperforming. We know there are going to be issues but good communication and a quick resolution are our main concerns. If we can’t maintain those, we can ultimately place the provider in the preverbal penalty box. An overall failure to correct the issue may even result in a game ejection. We make light of the situation, but we firmly believe that accountability is key to providing a solid service.
In summary, choosing a SIP termination provider can be very time consuming and risky if you don’t have a plan or process. Developing a process, like the “RATA,” can dramatically increase your batting average, which produces better quality and higher profit margins for your organization.
Jason Tapolci is President of VoIP Innovations, an Inc. 5000 company. They specialize in providing the largest DID and termination VoIP footprints in North America. Their network includes over 500,000 DIDs in stock in over 8,500 rate centers in the US and Canada. Recently, VoIP Innovations expanded their footprint to include DIDs in over 60 countries and now offers A-Z termination. VoIP Innovations is owned by ABG Capital and is based in Pittsburgh, PA. To learn more about VoIP Innovations, visit their website at http://www.VoIPInnovations.com.