The CEI Group, Inc. (CEI) is upgrading its telephone system by switching to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunk lines, the latest in Voice-over-Internet Protocol technology, the company has announced.

"We engage in a total of more than 1 million inbound and outbound phone calls a year, most of which are long-distance and combine voice and streaming media," said Bob Marriott, CEI's senior manager of enterprise technology. "Our new SIP trunks offer more robust multi-media capability and the advantage of simpler, virtual connectivity to internet service telephone providers. They're also more scalable and cost-effective, and will help us control our costs as CEI call volume continues to grow."

CEI began the year traditional PRI/T1 trunks, which require hardware to convert voice and video messages to be compatible with Internet voice services. Marriott said CEI recently replaced three of those trunk lines with SIP trunks — whose signals are already Internet-compatible — and plans ultimately to rely solely on SIPs. 

"The lack of additional hardware means SIP connectivity is less likely to fail," Marriott explained. "The cost advantage is that you only pay for the calls you make, instead of paying for each trunk line plus the calls."

SIP trunks offer the additional advantage of extending the reliability of CEI call center connectivity, Marriott said. The call capacity of CEI's trunk lines exceeds the company's call volume, and comes from three different providers. In the event that one provider's lines go down, CEI's system automatically switches to unused capacity from one or both of the other providers, he explained.