A Free SIP Trunk is Normal – Here’s How You Save Real Money

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A free Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunk seems like a great way businesses and organizations can save money on their VoIP phone bills, but it also sounds too good to be true.

In many cases, VoIP providers advertise free SIP trunks as a foot-in-the-door technique to attract those looking for affordable communications solutions. But as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

When it comes to free SIP trunks, although the setup costs are usually waived, it’s likely that you’ll still have to pay for a service to use the trunk thereafter.

Nevertheless, a free SIP trunk can still be an excellent cost-saving opportunity compared to a traditional public switch telephone network (PSTN). If you’re in the market, you may want to know exactly what free SIP trunking entails to see if it would bring savings to your company.

Graphic to show how SIP trunking works from Nextiva.

What is a Free SIP Trunk?

SIP trunking is useful for making and receiving calls and other types of communication via an internet connection using SIP.

Specifically, trunking refers to the consolidation of numerous communication channels into a single connection between a company’s private branch exchange (PBX) and its service provider’s network. SIP trunking differs from PSTN trunking in that it’s fully digital and utilizes internet connections as opposed to traditional landline phones that require physical infrastructure.

SIP trunking, especially when it’s free, is popular among businesses and organizations for many reasons. For instance, it allows companies to continue using their existing equipment, it offers improved cost savings and efficiency, and it provides easy ways to scale up and grow.

However, it’s important to remember that “free” SIP trunking doesn’t mean totally free of charge for the businesses and organizations who sign up for it. While setups are typically free in most cases, you’ll still be paying your SIP trunking provider for numbers, lines, minutes, and other expenses.

In this sense, free SIP trunking can sometimes be more of a sales gimmick—like a free shaker bottle from a sporting goods store that wants you to buy its expensive whey protein. Similar to how you can probably find cheaper protein elsewhere, there may be better ways for you to save money on your overall VoIP bill.

7 Better Ways To Save Money Than a Free SIP Trunk

Although a free SIP trunk can help businesses and organizations lower their VoIP costs, better cost-saving alternatives are available, and they don’t rely on gimmicks.

1. Audit your monthly minutes

One of the most effective ways to cut your VoIP phone bill is to pay closer attention to your monthly minutes.

All too often, businesses and organizations overspend on their phone systems, paying for dozens of phone lines and calling minutes they never use. Companies should carefully audit their monthly minutes—especially their total minutes outbound—to get a more detailed look at just how many monthly minutes they’re using and for what purposes.

After closely auditing your monthly minutes, look at the various pricing structures available for your provider’s SIP trunk plans and determine which one is truly the best fit for you. For example, unlimited SIP trunk plans are a great option if you have auto dialers, but they may be overkill if you don’t actually need one.

2. Use softphones

Switching to softphones can also provide cost savings for businesses and organizations seeking to lower their VoIP bills.

A softphone is a piece of software that allows you to make and receive phone calls over the internet via your existing devices, meaning that you don’t need to invest in equipment and other types of hardware to use the service. Softphone technology offers many advantages, such as increased portability, greater flexibility, and greater customization options.

The usefulness of softphone technology is largely dependent on the type of business or organization you have. If you work in a quiet home office, it can be a great option. However, call centers and busy offices require noise-canceling headphones to negate background noise, incurring an additional cost.

3. Consider phone leasing

Phone leasing is another option for saving money in some cases.

Phone leasing works much the same way leasing a car or apartment does. When you sign a lease for a phone or phone system, you gain the right to use it for a set amount of time in exchange for making payments.

Financially, leasing can be a smart option for companies looking for a temporary phone system solution, as it’s an affordable alternative to buying a phone system outright. With phone leasing, companies are often able to acquire a system quickly, enjoy fixed and predictable leasing payments, and can arrange for long-term plans with relatively low monthly payments.

4. Use virtual phone numbers

With a virtual phone number, your business can access a number linked to an online account from a provider as opposed to a number in a fixed location. This can present a way to save money as it allows for outsourcing calls to just about anywhere in the world and it also offers greater flexibility and customization compared to having a number in a fixed, physical location like your company office.

5. Consider your total ownership costs carefully

When looking to lower your phone bill, it’s important to step back and take a big-picture look at your total cost of ownership. In many cases, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to cut costs and maximize efficiency.

Carefully look at everything that goes into your VoIP phone system and the resulting expenses, such as all of your numbers, lines, equipment, and the like. Next, it’s time to ask some hard but necessary questions. Can you trim down the number of lines you have? Will switching to headphones or even just softphone technology alone be more economical compared to using desk phones?

Once you’ve got a closer look at your total cost of phone system ownership, see where you can cut costs wherever possible. Of course, it may mean making some sacrifices and having to make some adjustments, but the long-term cost savings can also be worth it.

6. Switch to a hosted VoIP System

If you don’t already have one, switching to a hosted VoIP system provides another cost-saving advantage for companies.

With a hosted or cloud-based phone system, your provider is responsible for maintaining all of the VoIP service and technology. This differs from an on-premise VoIP phone system, in which all of the VoIP technology is located at your physical office.

Hosted VoIP phone systems generally have low setup and installation costs, no maintenance fees, and don’t require any onsite hardware or in-house IT staff to maintain.

7. Look at your monthly invoices closely to find savings

Finally, closely examine your monthly invoices to see if there are any hidden fees or charges for things you no longer need or use.

If it looks like there are any opportunities to lower your phone bill and optimize your current usage, take advantage of them.

Even if you can’t find any major savings after examining your invoices closely, it won’t hurt to take it as a learning experience and shop around for better deals from other providers. You can also try to negotiate with your current provider to find a way to lower your bill a bit.

Save More Money Today

We know that many businesses and organizations struggle with their phone bill costs, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways to save money.

While a free SIP trunk is certainly one of them, even better alternatives exist. With a little extra care and consideration, you can cut into your VoIP phone bill and invest the savings back into your organization.

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