How SIP works

The telephony system works via a cog and wheel setup. What this means is that every long distance call you make is routed along a telephone wire to a central station, where your voice is routed to another central station, which is finally carried to the person with whom you are trying to communicate. For the call to be maintained, the entire time you are speaking, a space along all the lines in between you and the person you are talking with must be completely devoted to you. Because millions of people are talking at the same time, the little space along the telephone lines becomes rather desired property. And like all things desired, the price is high. Before recent innovations, however, there were no alternatives, so everyone grudgingly paid the often costly long-distance telephone bill.

SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, has turned the telephony world upside down. Specifically, SIP refers to a protocol that allows computers to talk to each other without going through a central station. Practically, what that means for you and me is that it is no longer necessary to pay for expensive telephone lines to complete our calls. SIP technology is a relatively new development in which calls are made on a peer-to-peer rather than cog and wheel network. What that means, is that you are now able to call people directly from your SIP enabled phone to theirs. This ends up being radically cheaper than the old way of calling.

The SIP system does not require a central computer and operators like the old telephony system did. Rather, your computer, or SIP enabled phone, does all the routing for you.

SIP has been around for a number of years, but only recently has it begun to go mainstream and take off in popularity. This quick increase in interest over SIP is due to companies like Mobalex, who were aware of the fact that over the generations we have come to expect certain tones, buttons, and protocols from our phones. So what they have done is to transpose those functions onto the SIP system. Rather than forcing users to communicate in a completely new way, what these companies have done is to provide a calling experience which from the user's perspective is completely identical to traditional telephony.

SIP is typically offered in two formats, computer based and hardware based. Computer based SIP is a system that allows you to make calls using your computer as the router and communicating via a headset on your computer. The more practical and popular version, however, actually provides you with new SIP enabled telephone handsets or converts your existing phones to SIP. By eliminating any technical requirements, modern SIP providers have made using the system as easy, or easier, than using a traditional phone. I say easier, because many companies are able to take advantage of the fact that the system is internet based to provide you with some very unique benefits. These include the ability to adjust your plan, change your calling options, and even pay your bill from the same website.

SIP technology is quite revolutionary in the world of communication. By creating a peer-to-peer network, SIP has been able to radically undercut the prices of traditional telephony, take advantage of the Internet, and still maintain the ease of traditional telephony. It is merely a matter of time before we are all using SIP for all of our telephoning needs.

Author: Jim Sherman



Copyright 2006 Wilson's Electronics