Do I Absolutely Need a SIP Aware Router?

SIP routers will boost your MOS scoreSIP aware (Session Initiation Protocol aware) routers and/or firewalls are capable of treating VoIP (Voice over IP) packets differently compared to the other packets going through the network. With most SIP/VoIP packets being marked as priority in the headers and some routers honoring the priority mark in the headers, do you still need a SIP aware router in your network?

To address this question, it makes sense to understand why VoIP packets can get into trouble. In most branch-office to branch-office VoIP communications, the most problematic segment of the networks are the last miles, i.e. the Internet connectivity that is coming to the branch office. Even for small businesses with single office setups, the origin of the networking problem usually lies in the last mile of the network. The problem may actually not be an error per se. As an example, cross traffic either originating from, or destined to the office may overwhelm the last mile and create a condition where SIP/VoIP packets, even with the priority mark may experience, packet loss, high latency or high jitter. These type of negative network conditions will impact the quality and reliability of your VoIP system and your calls will suffer.

In some cases, the last mile network conditions may fluctuate even without cross traffic. The network conditions are dependent on so many factors that as a network administrator, in some cases, it might be wiser to accept the conditions and engineer solutions around the problem.

That’s why SIP aware routers can make a very significant difference in solving quality, reliability and even in some cases, capacity related issues. The modern VoIP Gateways or SIP aware firewalls have the capability to route the VoIP packets around network problems in real time. So, as an example, if WAN1 of your office has a sudden spike in jitter or packet loss (or anything else that may impact VOIP traffic), the SIP aware router can dynamically steer the VoIP packets through, say WAN2, and therefore shield the network problems from the application layer completely. Of course, this translates into rock-solid VoIP and happy callers!

So, the answer to our initial questions appears to be “Yes, only if VoIP is critical for your organization.” Irrespective of the importance of VoIP applications within your organization, having a VoIP aware network can significantly improve the quality of your VoIP calls, as your router can now steer these VoIP packets away from problematic WAN links.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.


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