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VoIP vs. SIP: What’s the Difference and Which is Best?

Simplify your phone communication with a cost-effective, secure and reliable virtual phone solution

CallHippo Blog image
Jahnavi Vekaria

Senior Writer:

green tickDate: October 20, 2022

“There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realize it’s a tool that we use in this world.”- Tim Berners Lee.

Understanding Tim Berners Lee’s words, it becomes slightly more comfortable to fathom how far we have come in the internet race. What seems like a mundane task that can be done with a few clicks on our smartphone was once a dream of the old era.

Making calls over the internet via WhatsApp, Skype or Hangouts seems like a very straightforward and convenient task. But roll the clock back a decade, and these things were mostly a luxury tool needing costly internet plans and full-fledged internet lines and connections.

One of the things that are being taught heavily to students nowadays is VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol. To the uninitiated, this is the same protocol that helps you to place calls over the internet. So in a crux, no VoIP, no call over the internet.

VoIP system works because it sends the voice signals as packets instead of continuous signals like in traditional phone lines. However, VoIP comes to another more powerful protocol but mostly undervalued, SIP or the Session Initiation Protocol.

A SIP work revolves around the initiation, maintenance, and termination of communication sessions in VoIP. Instead of just concerning itself with voice, the SIP VoIP also governs the transfer of video and messaging applications.

Now, the question might arise that if SIP encompasses VoIP functionality, that protocol might be the better one to deploy for your business needs. But hold your horses. That is not always the case. Not all SIP providers cover VoIP, and not all VoIP providers give VoIP embedded with a SIP protocol.

In some cases, mostly business VoIP, the VoIP protocol functions as the more significant element and includes SIP under its purview. This means that VoIP automatically comes with the functionality to increase its dominion from just voice calling to arranging the transfer of video, text, and other multimedia.

7 Clear Differences Between VoIP and SIP

To decide which one you should get, here are the differences between VoIP and SIP.

1.Voice over IP is mainly for calling over the internet.It is an app layer protocol that governs the initiation, maintenance, and termination of multimedia transfer over the internet.
2.It is a group of protocols that work together to make calls over the internet possible.This is a centralized protocol that has a relatively limited scope of its operation.
3.Can send only voice messages in data packets at set intervals.Sends all types of multimedia like video, texts, images with average streamflow of data.
4.In the case of a VoIP phone, a connection to a computer with the internet is necessary.In the case of a SIP phone, no connection to the computer is needed, more like a traditional phone that can function without the internet also.
5.The data is collected, organized, and distributed via one central network.Decentralization of data sharing and storage. Each host has its processing system, which allows more data handling.
6.It needs to be configured manually every time as per the client requirement. Cannot interact with other protocols without modifications.Can interact with other protocols and adapt its signaling protocol to match the client. Intelligent and adaptive.
7.Relatively limited scope in terms of scalability.Offers immense scalability for business functionality.

Now that you know the differences between the two, it’s time to see each of the two’s benefits and pitfalls. Just like there are two sides to a coin, each protocol has pros and cons, whether it’s a SIP or a VoIP Phone.

voip vs sip

VoIP Pros

  • Initial setup and installation costs are low.
  • Monthly billing cycles and ownership costs remain reasonably low and cost-effective.
  • Portable and ready-to-go usage. Do not need a physical installation.
  • No need for long-term investments. Shorter-term service contracts are available.
  • The basic features of caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding is all provided in VoIP.

VoIP Cons

  • Needs bandwidth for handling a large amount of data
  • Needs better connections and bandwidth for proper quality of service of the call
  • Integration of basic VoIP with other mobile apps is not possible.
  • Integration with Salesforce, DropBox, or MS-Office is not possible.

SIP Pros

  • Works independently of the session or media in use
  • Highly flexible, adaptive, and intelligent for understanding client requirement
  • Open-Source Protocol which makes room for third-party app integration
  • Easier troubleshooting since error messages and other messages are simple, clear text.
  • Can accommodate multiple users without ever needing extra bandwidth as each host has their own set of protocols
  • Has room to accept the varying capabilities of various users. Audio-only members can also interact with Video and Audio members on a call.

SIP Cons

  • A router is needed at all times. This is for translating all the data like text, image, video, or any other multimedia into data packets that can be transmitted.
  • SIP is a newer protocol and has fewer resources or experts that have worked with it.
  • Higher initial costs due to the absence of experts.
  • On-site trained personnel needed to handle the protocol separately.
  • Using SIP or SCCP phones on the same network is not allowed. Tone conversion is needed for optimum usage.
  • Features and functionalities are still being developed. The ones that are created are mostly proprietary features that businesses keep under the wraps.

Like we said, each has its pros and cons. However, upon detailed observations and taking into account the need of the hour, SIP comes out on top as the better one. Here’s why:

  1. Allows scalability, especially in business applications
  2. Intelligent and adaptive while usage to adapt to real-life conditions
  3. Open Source protocol which means it can automatically be written or incorporated in custom apps
  4. Despite high initial costs, it adds more functionality for the price.
  5. Allows transfer of various multimedia formats like videos, audio, text, and images- all of which are translated and sent to the clients in packets
  6. A SIP phone can also double back as a regular phone which does not need an internet connection.
  7. Does not consume too much bandwidth of the system due to the decentralization of data storage and handling.

With these kinds of benefits in place, it is pretty easy to remark that the Session Initiation Protocol or SIP is the one to be picked up. Especially if you are a working professional, so now that you have the clarity about which one is the best one, make sure you take a dynamic and in-depth approach before picking one up.

Did we miss any critical differences between SIP and VoIP? You share your knowledge with us or correct us in the comments below.


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