The snazzy ads and free sign-up offers make so-called Unlimited SIP Trunks sound appealing. Let’s take a careful look at what a service such as SIPStation™ would actually provide and compare prices with what’s offered by providers such as Vitelity. Vitelity’s rates are competitive with those offered by many SIP providers as detailed in this PIAF Forum thread.

Full Disclosure: Vitelity is a Platinum Sponsor of Nerd Vittles™ and our open source projects including Incredible PBX®. We also happen to like their business practices and recommend them without hesitation. We’ve chosen SIPStation as the all-you-can-eat provider for comparison because their current service offering is perhaps the most flexible offering of its type in the industry.

First, a couple of upfront gotcha’s to keep in mind. SIPStation trunks originally were touted as unlimited. Now they’re called "high volume trunks." Realistically, they’ve always been limited in a number of ways. While with SIPStation you can make and receive a call at the same time, with many "unlimited" SIP trunk providers that is not the case unlike pay-as-you-go SIP trunks that typically offer multiple channels for simultaneous calls. Second, you usually can’t spoof the CallerID number on all-you-can-eat trunks unlike the trunks offered by many providers. SIPStation again is the exception. We’ll explain why that matters in a minute. Third, if you believe one-call-at-a-time unlimited trunks provide truly unlimited calling, we’ve got some swamp land in Florida that may be of interest. Leave your trunks off-hook for 2 weeks playing music on hold and see how long your account lasts.

One of the real beauties of VoIP technology and Asterisk® is that you can choose different providers to handle your incoming and outgoing calls. And you can choose still other providers to handle outbound calls in specific countries to take advantage of better calling rates. See our more recent article for details. With most all-you-can-eat services, you’re back to the old Ma Bell days. One incoming call means nobody else can receive an incoming call until the first caller hangs up or until you buy another $25 trunk. The same applies for outbound calls. Two people in an organization can’t make simultaneous outbound calls without buying additional trunks. SIPStation offers a bit more flexibility with its bursting option which we will explain below. There’s another similarity to Ma Bell: the price tag.

Now let’s suppose that your hardware store or restaurant needs four lines and 90% of the call traffic is incoming calls. With SIPStation, the monthly cost will be over $100. With a single Vitelity trunk and the Nerd Vittles special pricing, your cost for the phone number and four incoming calls at a time is $3.99 a month including 911 emergency service. That’s a 2500% price difference. And while you’d have to pay by the minute for the outgoing calls at a little less than a penny and a half a minute, in most businesses it amounts to chump change. So, unless your organization happens to make substantially more outgoing calls and makes several thousand minutes of outbound calls on every trunk every month, the business case simply isn’t there to justify any all-you-can-eat SIP trunking service. And, it gets worse.

While it is not the case with SIPStation, most all-you-can-eat providers won’t let you spoof your CallerID number on the outbound calls so you are forced to use their trunks for all of your outgoing and incoming calls. If your business depends upon a readily identifiable phone number to transact business over the phone, that means you don’t have the option of using a trunk such as Vitelity’s for incoming calls while reserving SIPStation trunks for outgoing-only calls because the phone number of your business won’t match up. In case you didn’t know, inbound calls are less costly to providers than most outbound calls, hence the reason they prefer to bundle the two in all-you-can-eat plans.

Let’s do the math for a typical business with support for 4 simultaneous calls. The cost from SIPStation would be $24.99/mo. x 4 channels plus $1/mo. for a single DID. That works out to $100.96 per month. Comparable service from Vitelity would run $3.99/mo. for the unlimited incoming calls with four simultaneous channels leaving a balance of $96.97 for pay-by-the-minute outbound calls. With Vitelity, that works out to 7,211 outbound calling minutes to break even. Anything less than 7,211 minutes of outbound calls a month saves you $14 a month per thousand minutes compared to SIPStation pricing for four ‘unlimited’ trunks. For a business that makes less than an hour of outbound calls a day, the savings would be over $70 a month!

The math only tells half the story. There are at least a couple other major issues. With some all-you-can-eat providers (not SIPStation), if 75% of your calls are incoming and your call volume is substantial, it means that much of the time you’ll only have one trunk available for outgoing calls. That limitation wouldn’t apply with Vitelity since incoming and outgoing calls are managed separately. In effect, you’d be getting the flexibility to make 4 outbound calls at a time using any providers you choose. Not only could you spoof your outbound calls with the CallerID of your incoming DID, but you also could still have 4 available channels for simultaneous incoming calls. Thus, you’ve effectively doubled the call capacity for the same money. These numbers obviously reflect substantial savings even for a small business. When you scale up to hundreds of trunks, the effect on your telecom budget will be downright staggering.

Here’s Our Recommendation. Start with a service such as Vitelity and take advantage of the discount coupon below. Then monitor your incoming and outgoing call volume in your business for several months. Next, do the math and see if you don’t save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year by using a provider such as Vitelity rather than an ‘unlimited’ SIP trunking service. Let us know your type of business and post the results of your testing for everyone else to see. Enjoy!

June 9 Update: As a general rule, we don’t republish prior articles unless we see renewed interest in a particular topic or the landscape changes dramatically. With the impending demise of Google Voice XMPP service, reader queries for SIP alternatives have skyrocketed. So we’ve decided to revisit some of the more popular SIP alternatives. Following this week’s release of an updated version of this particular article, a Sangoma software developer noted some changes that have been implemented in the SIPStation service following Sangoma’s purchase of SIPStation several years ago. The representative subsequently provided pricing details noting that customers could dig them out by Googling for them on other sites. As noted above, Sangoma no longer advertises their SIPStation trunks as "unlimited" preferring to brand them as "high volume trunks" on which Sangoma imposes a 3,000 minute cap unless they are Canadian calls in which case the number is half of that. Second, Sangoma now permits a simultaneous incoming and outgoing call on each SIPStation trunk. Again, this differs from the way most "unlimited" SIP trunking services work and, depending upon your business case, this obviously could make an appreciable difference in the overall cost of your SIP trunking service. Third, Sangoma permits CallerID spoofing on SIPStation trunks. This is good news and would allow a buyer to select a different provider that supported unlimited inbound calls at considerably cheaper costs. Again, this is not the usual case with unlimited SIP trunking and makes SIPStation a much more appealing service overall.

Of particular note, SIPStation now permits "bursting" so that callers never receive a busy signal. The customer pays an additional per minute rate when they exceed the allowable call volume on their trunks. For U.S. calls, it’s $0.019 per minute for inbound calls and $0.029 per minute for outbound. For all Canadian calls, it’s a whopping $0.039 per minute. Be advised that other charges may be imposed for taxes, fees, and calls of short duration. Details here. Other significant usage restrictions and fees are detailed here. It’s worth noting that neither of these links is provided on SIPStation’s actual web site. Instead, the representative referred us to these hidden documents on Sangoma’s web site as well as the FreePBX Wiki and this FreePBX forum thread. Unless a merchant has something to hide, no customer should have to resort to Google and external web sites to decipher the pricing and terms and conditions of a VoIP service. The Buyer Beware caveat appears well earned in the case of SIPStation!

Originally published: Wednesday, April 29, 2015  Updated: Friday, June 8, 2018



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Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, Sangoma, 3CX, TelecomsXchange and others have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and their pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

Awesome Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a terrific discount for Nerd Vittles readers. You now can get an almost half-price DID from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. When you use our special link to sign up, Nerd Vittles gets a few shekels down the road to support our open source development efforts while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For our users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls and four simultaneous channels for just $3.99 a month. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. NOTE: You can only use the Nerd Vittles sign-up link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage. Any balance is refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.


RentPBX, a long-time partner and supporter of PIAF project, is offering generous discounts for Nerd Vittles readers. For all of your Incredible PBX hosting needs, sign up at www.RentPBX.com and use code NOGOTCHAS to get the special pricing. The code will lower the price to $14.99/month, originally $24.99/month. It’s less than 50¢/day.


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This article has 2 comments

  1. I’ve been a very happy customer of Vitelity for almost 10 years. I highly recommend them to anyone who needs an inexpensive, high quality itsp.

  2. I think it’s unfair to single out SIPStation as being a bad offering. Many voice service providers have something similar in their portfolio including SIP.us which, if I recall correctly, is or was a partner of Nerd Vittles. Put the beef with Sangoma to rest finally. FreePBX is part of the free Incredible PBX package and things like SIPStation are there to make FreePBX sustainable and profitable.

    [WM: You missed a key point in the article which was to encourage readers to do the math before choosing an "unlimited" SIP plan. For most home users and small businesses, these offerings are a poor choice. SIPStation was chosen not because of bad blood but because their offering represents the best of the unlimited plan offerings. This was noted in the article and the differences setting SIPStation apart from some of their competitors were well documented.]

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