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Setting Up VoIP

Updated on April 18, 2013
Anatomy of an SIP Call
Anatomy of an SIP Call | Source

Working with SIP

In the confusing world of VoIP, the SIP protocol comes closest to being a standard signaling mechanism for initiating VoIP connections. The actual call however takes place directly between two machines in a P2P manner. The server is only used for setting up the call, negotiating codecs etc.

At the heart of the SIP protocol from the point of view of the user, is the SIP address. On the outside it looks just like an e-mail ID. It has a username followed by a "@" symbol, and ends with the domain name. So it looks something like "XYZ@ABC.com". In fact, you can set it up so that the person's e-mail ID and SIP address are exactly the same.

The first thing you have to do is obtain an account with an SIP service provider. This provider will host the servers and centralized infrastructure necessary to handle and initiate all connections. To start out with many of them offer free services in exchange for nonbranded SIP addresses. A business however will require more sophisticated functionality along with the ability to use the SIP VoIP calling system to make and receive calls from traditional PSTN lines. This in fact will be the bulk of your expenditure. If you only use your VoIP system to communicate with your own employees who're also using the same system, you will end up paying hardly anything at all.

Once the server side to set up, you need to decide what kind of client to use. To a large extent this depends on the device at hand. If you're using a PC, you just need to install an SIP VoIP client. Either your hosted VoIP PBX provider will have their own application, or you can use one suggested by them. If you're keen to have phones that look just like land lines, then you should have the opportunity to order them as you are signing up with an SIP service. Ask your provider if they have a tie up with a hardware company for this purpose. This will make it easy and convenient to install and update the VoIP phones when they arrive.

If you're using a smartphone, there are any number of SIP clients on both the Android as well as iOS app stores. You might have to install several of them to find out which one pleases you the most. Feed in your SIP server configuration details into the client and you should be ready to go! just as the address of an SIP service has remarkable similarities to e-mail, the setup is very similar as well. You have a server who is the SIP provider, and you have a client similar to an e-mail client. You might have to tweak your local network in order to optimize it for VoIP communications. Work with your provider to find out the best way to go about this.

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